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15 Common Animals That Live in Lakes (Pictures)

A lake is a large body of water that’s completely surrounded by land. Lakes are larger than ponds are still bodies of water, unlike rivers. These freshwater habitats are in what’s known as a lentic ecosystem and are home to all kinds of creatures. Some of these animals live within the lake’s waters, while others dwell on the surface or in the area around the lake.

Lakes can be found all over the globe, in all kinds of climates and at many elevations. This means that lake habitats can vary significantly based on their locations. All lakes play an essential role in preserving wildlife and are home to a variety of plants and animals.

15 Animals That Live In Lakes

The following list of animals that live in or near lakes range from fish to otters. A freshwater lake offers a habitable environment to many animals, whether they spend their time above or beneath the surface.

1. Fish

Many species of fish can be found in lakes, including salmon, catfish, trout, walleye, and perch. Some species, like lake char and lake sturgeon, exclusively live in rivers and lakes, while other species, like eels and salmon, can live in both freshwater and saltwater. Lake fish often serve as a food source for other animals within the habitat.

2. Ducks

Ducks are a type of waterfowl that includes over 160 species! You can find ducks in lakes all over the world, on every continent except for Antarctica. Some types of ducks feed on the surface of the lake’s water, while other types of ducks are able to dive underwater to forage for food.

3. Beavers

Image by Ralf Schick from Pixabay

These semi-aquatic rodents build their homes in freshwater environments like lakes. Beavers will use rocks, branches, and other vegetation around a lake to build dams, which create wetlands that other animals call home. While beavers are primarily live in lakes in North America, they can also be found in Eurasia.

4. Frogs

American bullfrog

Although there are over 5,000 species of frogs, most of those species don’t live in lakes. There are 63 known species of aquatic and semiaquatic frogs, and some of those species, like Pacific tree frogs and true frogs, live in lakes. Many¬†frog species start their life as tadpoles and only develop limbs when they reach maturity.

5. Swans


Swans are one of the largest living flying birds in the world today. They can be found in lakes and other wetlands, where they use their long necks to reach plants beneath the surface of the water. Species of swan can be found worldwide, and the bird plays a significant role in the folklore of many cultures.

6. Turtles

image: Pixabay.com

Some species of turtle live in the ocean, but other types of turtles, like the red-eared slider and the painted turtle, live in lakes. Water turtles tend to spend most of their time in the water, but will climb on rocks and logs so that they can enjoy the sun. Even though turtles are vulnerable to predators while they’re young, they can easily live for more than 50 years in the wild should they make it to adulthood.

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7. Herons

Herons are extremely mobile and can be found in lakes habitats all over the world. Unlike many other birds that live around lakes, herons are unable to swim and search for food in shallow water. You can find herons in colder climates, but most species of this bird live in lakes in tropical climates.

8. Snails

freshwater snail
freshwater snail | photo by: Peter O’Connor | CC 2.0

You can find snails in all kinds of freshwater habitats, including lakes. Some snails have gills, which allow them to spend most of their time in the water, while other snails have lungs and have to return to the water’s surface for air. Lake snails primarily feed on plants and algae, but they may also eat small bugs and animals that get in their way.

9. Mink

America mink

Minks are a semiaquatic mammal with webbed feet that help them to swim across lakes quickly. Usually, minks take shelter in trees or in abandoned habitats built by other lake animals. Minks are a major predator in lake habitats and feed on fish, frogs, amphibians, muskrats, and other small mammals.

10. Bats

Indiana Bats | image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

This one is a bit of a stretch when it comes to animals that live in lakes since bats are known for living in caves, but many bat species seek shelter near lakes. Bats are nocturnal and will come out on night to feed on the insects that fly around the lake, like mosquitoes. Many bat species also use lakes as a source of drinking water.

11. Crayfish

Sometimes referred to as crawfish or mudbugs, crayfish are a small freshwater crustacean that look a little like miniature lobsters! Crayfish can be found in lakes throughout North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Fossil records show that crayfish have lived in lakes for more than 100 million years!

12. Geese

geese on the water
Image by Maria Saveleva from Pixabay

Geese are a type of waterfowl that makes its home along still bodies of water, like lakes. Lakes are a food source for geese and also provide protection from predators. When a group of geese is flying through the air, it’s called a skein, but when the geese are on water, the group is known as a gaggle.

13. Salamanders

image: Pixabay.com

These lizard-like amphibians often make their home in and around lakes. Some species of salamander, like mudpuppies, are aquatic, while other species, like long-toed salamanders, travel in and out of the water. While salamanders are unable to produce sound, they can communicate with each other through pheromones.

14. Otters


These mammals are carnivorous hunters that look for prey in bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. While otters primarily feed on fish, they may also eat other lake animals, such as frogs or crayfish. When otters aren’t hunting, they can often be seen floating on their backs along the water.

15. Loons

common loon on the water
Image by detillybert from Pixabay

Loons are aquatic birds that are known for their distinctive call, which can sound like yodeling! Although loons often struggle to walk on land, they’re strong swimmers and can propel themselves beneath the water so that they can find food like fish, frogs, and snails. It can be hard for loons to digest food, which is why they usually swallow pebbles from the bottom of the lake when they eat.