Of the 181 mammals listed as occurring in the state of Texas, nearly 60 species have been verified in Big Thicket National Preserve. Beaver and river otter are sometimes seen in the rivers and streams. Eight species of bats may be seen flying overhead at dusk, consuming the plentiful moths (over 1600 species), beetles, and mosquitoes. An array of rodents scurry in the understory while gray squirrels, fox squirrels, and flying squirrels move through the trees overhead. Skunks, raccoons, ringtails, opossums, and armadillos are common, but their nocturnal behavior makes them difficult to see during the day. White-tailed deer are the only native ungulate in the preserve and must compete for food with invasive feral hogs, who eat just about anything. Gray and red fox, coyotes, and bobcats are the primary predators on the prowl looking for a rodent, bird, or snake to fill their bellies.

This area was once famous for its black bear populations, but these were hunted heavily for over 100 years until they were
extirpated from southeast Texas in the 1950s. However, bears may be making a comeback from surrounding states. Local residents occasionally report sighting black bears, and while the bears do not seem to have established a permanent population here, regional resource managers believe there is a good chance that bears either from the Louisiana subspecies of the American black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) or from the Ozark region populations may eventually re-establish in the Big Thicket area.

Visit our
NPSpecies page for a complete list of mammals and other animals found in the preserve.


Meet Our Mammals

  • a small bat with large ears, hanging upside-down on a tree.

    Read more about these nighttime fliers and the research we're conducting in order to learn more about them.

  • gray-white opossum looking at the camera through some brush
    Virginia Opossum

    Learn more about the only marsupials native to the US.

  • armadillo in grass among dead leaves, looking toward the camera
    Nine-Banded Armadillo

    Learn more about the animal known as the "little armored one."

  • black and white trail camera photo of a bobcat in a swamp at night

    Learn more about the bobcat, with its signature bobtail and ear tufts.

  • small coyote in dense, green forest, looking toward the trail camera

    Learn more about these wiley canines.

  • A river otter swimming in the water, looking toward the camera
    River Otter

    You otter learn more about these playful animals.

  • female deer grazing in a grassy yard, looking at the camera
    White-Tailed Deer

    Oh deer! Learn more about these quiet forest animals.

  • squirrel posing on a log looking at the camera
    Eastern Gray Squirrel

    Go nuts for these bushy-tailed forest critters.

  • red fox trotting through an open, grassy area
    Red Fox

    Learn more about this canid, one of the most widespread in the world.

  • close up of a raccoon in a swamp between 2 trees

    Learn more about these clever, masked scavengers.

Last updated: March 8, 2022

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Mailing Address:

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625



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