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13 Georgia State Animals (Official State Symbols)

Georgia, the southeastern state of the United States, is a land of diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife. Georgia’s varied landscape includes coastal marshes, lush forests, and the rugged Appalachian Mountains across its approximately 59,425 square miles (153,911 square kilometers) of land. This diversity of habitats provides a haven for a rich variety of animal species, including the Georgia state animals.

13 Georgia state animals

In the following article, we’ll learn more about these iconic creatures and their special role in the state. 

1. Brown Thrasher

Brown thrasher
Brown thrasher | image by Shenandoah National Park via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Toxostoma rufum
  • Status: Georgia State Bird

In 1970, the state of Georgia designated the brown thrasher as its beloved State Bird, a title it had proudly held since 1935. You can stumble upon this magnificent bird in the enchanting forests of the eastern and central regions of the United States and Canada. 

Its appearance is often mistaken for the wood thrush, as it boasts a combination of brown feathers on its upper body and a pristine white underbelly adorned with delicate streaks. The Georgia legislature handpicked the brown thrasher as a symbol, representing the state’s abundant biodiversity and diverse bird population.

2. Southern Appalachian brook trout

Southern appalachian brook trout
Southern appalachian brook trout | image by James St. John via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Salvelinus fontinalis
  • Status: Georgia State Cold water game fish

Georgia designated the Southern Appalachian brook trout as its State cold water game fish in 2006. Once a native of Eastern North America, this magnificent species now flourishes in the lofty heights of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching all the way down to the state’s northern reaches. 

The brook trout thrives in crystal-clear, refreshing waters with a narrow pH range. Georgia selected it as the State Cold Water game fish to champion conservation efforts and emphasize the importance of safeguarding this iconic species and its pristine cold-water habitats.

3. Adoptable Dog

Adoptable dog
Adoptable dog | image by Alachua County via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Status: Georgia State Dog

In 2016, Georgia designated the “adoptable dog” as its official State Dog. It involves all the dogs awaiting adoption in animal shelters, humane societies, or public/private animal refuges. The legislation seeks to promote pet adoption, recognize the tireless efforts of animal shelters, and express gratitude for their dedicated staff. 

Some lawmakers opposed the designation because they preferred a particular breed, such as the English bulldog. However, the bill successfully passed through both legislatures and made its way to the governor’s desk for approval, proudly showcasing the state’s constant commitment to promoting pet adoption and animal welfare.

4. Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass | image by Oak Ridge National Laboratory via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Micropterus salmoides
  • Status: Georgia State Fish

In 1970, Georgia proudly designated the largemouth bass as its State Fish. This carnivorous freshwater gamefish is native to the eastern and central United States and has been widely introduced elsewhere. Largemouth bass are popular among anglers due to their strong resistance when caught. It prefers habitats with lots of vegetation, and its diet consists of smaller fish, worms, frogs, and other creatures. 

While largemouth bass are highly sought after for sport fishing, they can also transform into invasive species, causing a significant impact on native wildlife. Georgia selected this iconic fish as its State Fish to honor its importance in recreational fishing and its prevalence in its waters.

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5. Bobwhite Quail

Bobwhite Quails
Bobwhite Quails | Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay
  • Scientific Name: Colinus virginianus
  • Status: Georgia State Game Bird

In 1970, Georgia designated the northern bobwhite as its State Game Bird. It’s a ground-dwelling bird that has a distinctive whistling call and can be found in Cuba, the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. 

Due to its widespread distribution throughout the state’s landscape and popularity among hunters, the bobwhite quail is a suitable representation of the state’s game bird. Naming it the State Game Bird raises awareness and promotes conservation to protect this iconic bird and its habitat.

6. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail on plants
Eastern tiger swallowtail on plants | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Papilio glaucus
  • Status: Georgia State Butterfly

Designated as the State Butterfly in 1988, the eastern tiger swallowtail is native to the Eastern North American region and is known for its attractive appearance and graceful flight. The choice of the eastern tiger swallowtail as the State Butterfly was influenced by the captivating beauty it possesses and the meaningful symbolism associated with metamorphosis.

Mrs. Deen Day Smith donated to build the Day Butterfly Center at Callaway Gardens, supporting the conservation-focused designation as the butterfly symbolizes the state’s dedication to preserving beauty for future generations.

7. American green tree frog

American green treefrog
American green treefrog
  • Scientific Name: Hyla cinerea
  • Status: Georgia State Amphibian

In 2005, Georgia designated the American green tree frog as its State Amphibian. This arboreal species is known for its bright green to reddish-brown coloration and is commonly found in open canopy forests and waters with abundant vegetation. It emits aggressive calls and grapples with intruders when defending its territory. 

As the State Amphibian, it showcases the vital diversity of amphibians in their environment. The frog’s sensitivity to pollutants makes it a great bioindicator for checking water contamination, emphasizing the importance of conservation efforts.

8. North Atlantic right whale

Group of north atlantic right whale
Group of north atlantic right whale | image by National Marine Sanctuaries via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Eubalaena glacialis
  • Status: Georgia State Marine Mammal

The North Atlantic right whale, a baleen whale, became Georgia’s State Marine Mammal in 1985. Hunted for blubber, they’re now endangered, with less than 370 individuals in the western North Atlantic. They travel from the Labrador Sea to their winter calving areas off Georgia and Florida, where they encounter dangers like vessel strikes and getting caught in fishing gear. 

Selecting the North Atlantic right whale as the State Marine Mammal emphasizes the importance of conserving and safeguarding this magnificent and fragile species.

9. Honeybee

western honeybee
Western honeybee
  • Scientific Name: Apis mellifera
  • Status: Georgia State Insect

In 1975, Georgia designated the honeybee as its State Insect. Known for their production of honey and crucial role in pollination, honeybees contribute significantly to the state’s economy and agriculture. The western honey bee is the most well-known species, domesticated for honey production and crop pollination. 

By recognizing the honeybee as the State Insect, Georgia acknowledges its vital role in agriculture and the well-being of its citizens. Conserving these hardworking insects is crucial for sustaining diverse ecosystems and food production.

10. Gopher tortoise

Gopher tortoise crawling
Gopher tortoise crawling
  • Scientific Name: Gopherus polyphemus
  • Status: Georgia State Reptile

The gopher tortoise became Georgia’s State Reptile in 1989, and this species is native to the southeastern United States and digs burrows, offering shelter to over 360 other animal species. Threatened by predation and habitat destruction, its population is declining. Georgia chose the gopher tortoise as the State Reptile to raise awareness about its ancient origin and ecological significance, and to promote its conservation needs. 

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11. Knobbed Whelk

Knobbed whelk
Knobbed whelk | image by James St. John via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Busycon carica
  • Status: Georgia State Seashell

The knobbed whelk became Georgia’s State Seashell in 1987. It’s a big, fierce sea snail with a unique spiral shell found along the North Atlantic coast of North America. The knobbed whelk thrives on the state’s shoreline, boasting an alluring look with its spiky spines and abundant knobs. 

By naming it the State Seashell, they aim to promote love for Georgia’s beautiful beaches and coastal waters, while recognizing the importance of this marine species in our coastal ecosystem.

12. Red drum

Red drum fish
Red drum fish | image by Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Sciaenops ocellatus
  • Status: Georgia State Salt-water fish

Georgia designated the red drum as its state salt-water fish in 2006. This fish is popular in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, bringing in over $2 billion annually in the United States. Red drums are characterized by their dark red color and a large black spot near the tail base. 

They’re sought-after by anglers and are known for their distinctive drumming sound during spawning. The designation recognizes the importance of this fish for recreational fishing as well as its economic impact on the state’s coastal waters.

13. White-tailed deer

White-tailed Deer in bushy park
White-tailed Deer in bushy park | image by Bill Chitty via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus
  • Status: Georgia State Mammal

In 2015, elementary students at Reese Road Leadership Academy in Muscogee County chose the white-tailed deer as the State Mammal. These elegant deer are native to North, Central, and South America and inhabit various terrains, from forests to coastal marshes in the state. 

With a reddish-brown coat in summer and grayish-brown in winter, they’re known for their white tails used for signaling. White-tailed deer are admired for their beauty and agility, capable of running up to 40 miles per hour, jumping high fences, and swimming at 13 miles per hour.