New York is recognized not only for its iconic skyline and vibrant city life but also for its diverse array of state animals. The state’s wildlife encompasses various species, including soaring birds of prey, elusive mammals, and mesmerizing marine creatures. Some of these animals hold the distinction of being officially designated as New York state animals because they reflect the state’s rich natural heritage and history.
The beaver, chosen as the state mammal, pays tribute to the state’s early economy which was largely influenced by the beaver fur trade. The eastern bluebird, with its vibrant blue and orange plumage, holds the title of the state bird, symbolizing happiness and cheerfulness. These state symbols and others that we’ll learn about below collectively celebrate the state’s bountiful nature and its deep-rooted history.
8 New York state animals
The following list aims to provide a closer look at the creatures that New York has designated as its official symbols.
1. North American beaver
- Scientific Name: Castor canadensis
- Status: New York State Mammal
Although beavers aren’t commonly associated with New York, they were selected as the city’s symbol due to their resourcefulness, versatility, and historical significance. This is why this mammal was chosen to represent the city that never sleeps as its official state mammal in 1975. Overhunting, forest clearance, and the resulting loss of beaver habitat have all contributed to a precipitous decline in beaver numbers over the years.
However, efforts to reintroduce beavers in the Adirondacks in the early 1900s proved successful, leading to their thriving presence in upstate New York. The beaver’s influence on its habitat and role in motivating exploration and trade solidified its status as the State Mammal.
2. Eastern bluebird
- Scientific Name: Sialia sialis
- Status: New York State Bird
In 1970, the Eastern bluebird became officially recognized as the state bird. Once common in the Northeast, bluebird populations have declined as suburban sprawl replaced farmland and orchards. But with help from organizations like the North American Bluebird Society and concerned citizens, the species is making a comeback.
The bluebird’s return to open woodlands, farmlands, and orchards can be attributed to an awareness campaign promoting proper construction and maintenance of nesting boxes. The Eastern bluebird, with its beautiful blue plumage and cheerful song, was chosen to symbolize the spirit of rebirth and optimism that permeates New York’s landscapes.
3. Nine-spotted ladybug
- Scientific Name: Coccinella novemnotata
- Status: New York State Game Insect
For its important role in pest control, the nine-spotted ladybug was named the New York State Insect in 1989 and has since earned a place of honor in the hearts of New Yorkers. This ladybug species consumes up to a hundred aphids daily, both as larvae and adults.
The nine-spotted ladybug was discovered in the state in 2011, signaling a promising resurgence for this beloved insect after its numbers had declined due to introduced species. Identified by its unique black spots and distinctive features, the nine-spotted ladybug remains a treasured emblem of New York’s biodiversity.
4. Working dog
- Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris
- Status: New York State Dog
Instead of being kept as a pet, the Working dog is trained to perform specific tasks. Herding, guarding, assisting people with disabilities, and sniffing out drugs or landmines are just some of the jobs suited to working dogs because of their breed heritage or physical characteristics.
In 2015, the Working dog was officially recognized as the official state dog in recognition of how these dogs help people. They represent the best qualities of New Yorkers, including loyalty, dedication, and hard work.
5. Red-spotted purple/white admiral
- Scientific Name: Limenitis arthemis
- Status: New York State Butterfly
The red-spotted purple or white admiral in North America is one of the most beautiful butterfly species due to its striking wing patterns and remarkable ability to mimic other species. There are two main types of these species on display: the white admirals, which have a white band across their wings, and the red-spotted purples, which look like the poisonous pipevine swallowtail but lack the band.
Because of its presence in the state and its importance in studying evolution and hybridization, the state officially recognized this beautiful butterfly as the State Butterfly in 2008.
6. Snapping turtle
- Scientific Name: Chelydra serpentina
- Status: New York State Reptile
The snapping turtle is a large, aquatic reptile with a powerful bite. The females deposit their eggs in sandy soil close to water, and once the young hatch, they make a beeline for the water. However, snapping turtles are adaptable and can live in various environments, including brackish water, and while passive in the water, they become aggressive when mating on land.
In 2006, in recognition of the snapping turtle’s presence in the city that never sleeps and its ecological significance as a unique and interesting species, the state officially designated it as the state reptile.
7. Striped bass
- Scientific Name: Morone saxatilis
- Status: New York State Saltwater fish
Large and anadromous, you can find the striped bass in the waters off the Atlantic coast of North America. They’re known for their distinctive dark horizontal lines along their sides, and the Hudson River estuary is an important spawning ground for them when migrating from saltwater to freshwater.
They eat almost anything, but fish and insects comprise the bulk of their diet. In 2006, in honor of the striped bass’s ecological value, recreational value, and historical abundance in New York, the fish was officially named the state saltwater fish of the state.
- Scientific Name: Argopecten irradians
- Status: New York State Shell
The scallop is a marine bivalve mollusk with a colorful, fan-shaped shell that you can find in oceans worldwide. In 1988, the state officially named it the State Shell.
Bay scallops, abundant in Long Island Sound and other coastal areas, have a fascinating life cycle, moving from a free-swimming stage to attaching themselves and eventually becoming free-roaming animals. They’ve been used in art and design for centuries, making them culturally significant and popular among beachcombers.