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25 Amazing Animals That Start With S (Pictures and Facts)

How many North American animals that start with S can you name? Here’s a list of 25 species, from sea otters to snowshoe hares that all start with the letter S. Find out where they live in the wild and some interesting facts about each one. Let’s see how many you already know!

25 animals that start with s

From the largest owl worldwide to the smallest tuna species, find out fun facts about North American animals starting with S.

1. Sea otter

Scientific name: Enhydra Lutris

Sea otters are cute but voracious predators known for floating on their backs in the water. You can find them swimming in cold or temperate coastal waters in the Pacific. This includes the coasts of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, Oregon, and California. They prefer water less than 100 feet deep so they can spend less time diving for food.


2. Southern flying squirrel

image: Ken Thomas | Southern Flying Squirrel | Wikimedia Commons

Scientific name: Glaucomys volans

Southern flying squirrels are native to eastern North America, from Canada to Florida. These nocturnal animals are known for the skin flaps that act as parachutes allowing them to glide from branch to branch like they are flying. This helps them easily avoid predators.


3. Star-nosed mole

Image credit: Gordonramsaysubmissions / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Condylura cristata

Star-nosed moles are interesting-looking, with writhing tentacles on their face that’s a highly sensitive organs. This allows them to sense ground vibrations and electrical fields efficiently. They are also great diggers, swimmers, and divers. They blow and inhale air bubbles underwater to help them smell prey in the water. They live in wet lowlands in North America but also in the Appalachian Mountains.


4. Salmon shark

Salmon shark | image by NOAA Photo Library via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Lamna ditropis

Salmon sharks live in marine saltwater habitats of the Pacific Ocean, including around Canada and the U.S. You can find them at depths up to 1,864 meters. They are related to and often mistaken for porbeagles and great white sharks, earning them the nicknames “Pacific porbeagle” and “mini great white.” However, they get their name from their main diet – salmon.


5. Smokybrown cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach | image by t-mizo via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Periplaneta fuliginosa

Smokybrown cockroaches prefer the outdoors, unlike other roach species. They are also great fliers when the temperature and humidity conditions are right. These roaches are native to southeast Asia but can now be found in southeastern U.S. states.


6. Spotted lanternfly

source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Scientific name: Lycorma delicatula

Spotted lanternflies are a type of planthopper that look a lot like moths with pink or tan wings. These sap-eating insects are native to Asia and are believed to arrive in the U.S. through shipments from China. They are an invasive species in northeastern states.

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7. Squash beetle

Squash beetle | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Epilachna borealis

Often mistaken for ladybugs, squash beetles have yellow and orange shells with spots on their back. They can be garden pests, especially in the summer when they mate and lay eggs. These beetles are most abundant in the eastern U.S. states.


8. Southern black racer

Black Racer | credit: pondhawk | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Coluber constrictor

As their name suggests, the southern black racer is fast, reaching around 4 mph. They are also expert swimmers, are non-venomous, and live underground in prairie habitats, pinelands, scrubs, and sandy areas. While they mostly live in southeastern U.S. states, you can also find them in Mexico and northern U.S. states like Minnesota and Maine.


9. Scarlet kingsnake

scarlet kingsnake
scarlet kingsnake | source: Land Between the Lakes KY/TN

Scientific name: Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides

The scarlet kingsnake lives east of the Mississippi River, from Virginia to Florida. They prefer living underneath bark or wet leaves and underground in habitats such as oak forests, pine woods, prairies, and wetland hammocks. They are subspecies of milk snakes, harmless to humans, but have bright jewel-like colors to mimic the venomous coral snake. Interestingly enough, these snakes can eat other snakes, including venomous species.


10. Southern Pacific rattlesnake

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Scientific name: Crotalus helleri

Southern Pacific rattlesnakes are highly venomous, making you bleed without clotting if you get bitten. Their small range includes southern California, the Santa Catalina Islands, and Baja California in rocky hillsides, forests, grasslands, and coastal scrub. During the winter, they brumate in dens with hundreds of other individuals.


11. Sea roach

Sea roach | image by Daiju Azuma via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.5

Scientific name: Ligia exotica

Despite their names, sea roaches are crustaceans that can’t swim very well and live on land. They do, however, breathe through gills and need to keep their gills wet to take in oxygen. You can find them in coastal areas of the U.S. and U.K.


12. Sei whale

Sei whale | image by Andrea Centini via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Balaenoptera borealis

Sei whales are one of the fastest cetaceans, reaching top speeds of 32 mph. They also weigh up to 31 tons and live over 70 years easily. While they are typically seen in deeper waters away from the coastline, you can find them in the Gulf of Maine and Stellwagen Bank off the western North Atlantic coast during the summer.


13. Sperm whale

Sperm Whale | image by Gregory Smith via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Physeter macrocephalus

Sperm whales are toothed predators living in waters worldwide. However, you can find larger populations in the waters near New England, Alaska, the West Coast, and Pacific Islands. They can dive as deep as 10,000 feet and get their name from the waxy substance called spermaceti found in their heads.


14. Seagull

Image by Dx21 from Pixabay

Scientific name: Larus argentatus

Seagulls are tenacious forages that live near the coast. These clever birds will drop hard-shelled mollusks onto rocks to break them open and eat what’s inside. You can find them in coastal areas worldwide, including North America, Australia, and islands around Antarctica.


15. Snowy owl

Scientific name: Bubo scandiacus

Snowy owls are the largest owl species worldwide. You can find them in woodland habitats in the Arctic tundra. Outside the breeding season, they can wander to southern Canada and the northernmost regions of the U.S. They are skilled and patient hunters with great hearing and eyesight to find prey under dense snow.

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16. Song sparrow

song sparrow
Image by Veronika Andrews from Pixabay

Scientific name: Melospiza melodia

Song sparrows get their name from their beautiful singing, including clanking songs, buzzes, trills, and soft chimp calls. Their flights are fluttering and short, with a unique downward pumping of their tail. They are one of the most common North American birds living in various habitats, from woodland edges to salt marshes and deserts.


17. Swan

swan

Scientific name: Cygnus atratus

Agile, beautiful, and intelligent birds, swans can also get very aggressive when they are defending their young. These graceful birds mate for life and temperate or Arctic climates. Some sub-species also migrate as far south as Texas and Mexico for the winter.


18. Skipjack tuna

Black skipjack tuna | image by Heather Paul via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific name: Katsuwonus pelamis

If you’ve had canned tuna, it’s most likely skipjack tuna. They are one of the smallest tuna species, measuring under 3 feet long. You can find them in warm temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters. This includes the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.


19. Southern elephant seals

Scientific name: Mirounga leonina

Southern elephant seals are the largest seal species, growing up to 8,800 pounds and 20 feet long. Although they mostly live in Antarctic waters, around 50% of the world’s population breeds in South Georgia. They get their name from the trunk-like nose that males develop as they mature.


20. Steller sea lion

Steller sea lions | source: Olympic National Park

Scientific name: Eumetopias jubatus

In North America, the steller sea lion’s range extends from the Gulf of Alaska down to the Año Nuevo Island off California’s central coast. They are the largest sea lion species and have a large appetite to match. You can find them hunting octopus, fish, squid, and sometimes smaller seals.


21. Short-beaked common dolphin

Short-beaked common dolphin | image by Gregory Smith via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Delphinus delphis

Short-beaked common dolphins are small with rounder melons, shorter beaks, and growing less than 6 feet long. They prefer cool temperate waters to warm tropical waters that are between 650 to 6,500 feet deep. These dolphins are often associated with the Gulf Stream current in the western North Atlantic, including seen off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. They typically travel in groups of around 10 to 50 individuals.


22. Southern yellow bat

Scientific name: Lasiurus ega

Southern yellow bats are solitary subtropical vesper bat species that are yellow ochre-colored with a grayish tinge. You can find them in the southern areas of Texas, Arizona, California, as well as northeastern Mexico and Central America. They prefer roosting inside the cavities of palm trees or buildings where it is dark.


23. Seminole bat

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Scientific name: Lasiurus seminolus

The Seminole bat is mahogany with white-tipped dorsal hairs and is sometimes confused with the red bat. These common forest bats roost in pine trees and beneath leaf clusters, especially Spanish moss. You can find them in southeastern states, including eastern Texas, eastern Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia.


24. Stoat

Image by Dr. Georg Wietschorke from Pixabay

Scientific name: Mustela Erminea

Stoats have an elongated body, around 7 to 13 inches long, and share similar physical features to ferrets and weasels. They prefer colder climates and known to have distinctive white coats during the winter. You can find them throughout most of Canada and Alaska as well as in northern U.S. states, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and the Great Lakes region.

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25. Snowshoe hare

Scientific name: Lepus americanus

Snowshoe hares live throughout Northern North America, including Alaska, Canada, the Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, and the Appalachian Mountains. They get their name from their large, furry feet that act like snowshoes to help them travel over snow easily. Their winter look is snow-white fur but in the summer they are grayish brown or reddish.

About Patricia Greene

Patricia is a wildlife enthusiast that loves traveling and learning about wildlife all over North America and the world. Aside from being writer for Wildlife Informer, she's an avid bird watcher as well as the owner of several pet reptiles. She enjoys visiting national parks and seeing new sights in her free time.