Wildlife Informer is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Here are the 8 Texas State Animals

Occupying an enormous 268,581 square miles, Texas boasts many ecosystems bursting with wildlife. From the arid expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert to the lush, biodiverse pine forests of East Texas, the Lone Star State is home to a remarkable array of habitats and animal species. A wide range of animals, from large mammals to insects, have been recognized as official Texas state animals since the practice was established in 1927. This is meant to symbolize the diversity of Texas’ ecosystems.

8 Texas state animals

This article will take you through the state’s symbolic animals and discover why they are so important to Texans. 

1. State Bird – Northern mockingbird

Northern mockingbird perching
Northern mockingbird perching | image by Becky Matsubara via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos

The Northern Mockingbird, a common bird in North America, is famous for its incredible mimicry skills and beautiful gray-brown plumage. This adaptable creature thrives in various habitats and has a diverse diet, enjoying both insects and fruits. The bird’s remarkable intelligence allows it to recognize individual humans and find its way back to successful breeding spots. 

The Mockingbird, selected as Texas’s state bird in 1927, represents the Texan spirit with its impressive collection of 200 songs and unwavering dedication to defending its territory. The selection truly captures its widespread presence in every season, showcasing a unique singing style and a fierce determination to protect its homeland, embodying the bravery and resilience that Texas is known for.

2. State Small Mammal – Nine-banded armadillo

Nine-banded armadillo foraging
Nine-banded armadillo foraging | image by Robert Nunnally via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Dasypus novemcinctus

The Nine-banded Armadillo is a fascinating mammal native to the Americas. It’s known for its ability to adapt to various habitats and its preference for eating insects.

The creature is famous for its defensive leap, which it uses when feeling threatened. This armadillo species originated in South America and later expanded to North America during the Great American Interchange. 

In 1927, Texas officially declared it as the state’s Small Mammal after a fun mock election organized for elementary school children. The armadillo’s choice was influenced by its special qualities, which reflected the Texan spirit – a strong connection to the land, the ability to adapt, and a deep love for freedom. These attributes deeply resonate with the cultural and historical values of the state.

3. State Large Mammal – Texas longhorn

Texas longhorn grazing
Texas longhorn grazing | image by Harold Litwiler via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Bos taurus taurus

The Texas Longhorn, a remarkable American beef cattle breed known for its long horns, has a fascinating history and remarkable resilience. Derived from cattle introduced by Spanish conquistadores, these wonderful creatures have evolved to thrive in challenging environments, displaying exceptional strength against scorching temperatures and prolonged periods of drought. 

The iconic breed, closely tied to Texas’ cultural heritage, narrowly escaped extinction and emerged as a symbol of the state’s cattle drives in the 1860s and 1870s. On June 16, 1995, Texas officially recognized this creature’s historical significance and symbolic importance by designating it as the state’s Large Mammal.

It recognized the Longhorn’s importance in boosting the state’s economy after the Civil War and its close connection to the Texas identity.

4. State Flying Mammal – Mexican free-tailed bat

Mexican free-tailed bat
Mexican free-tailed bat | image by Bureau of Land Management via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Tadarida brasiliensis

The Mexican free-tailed bat is a mammal in North America, known for its impressive speed and ability to fly at high altitudes. Interestingly, the tail of this creature can be nearly half of its entire length. Although they gather in large groups, their preference for congregating in concentrated areas puts them at risk of losing their habitats. 

You may also like:  6 Types of Water Snakes in Illinois (Pictures)

Texas, known for the world’s biggest bat colony in Bracken Cave, declared the Mexican free-tailed bat as the state’s Flying Mammal on May 25, 1995. They emphasized how bats help maintain a healthy environment by eating large quantities of insects, such as mosquitos and crop pests. This natural pest control reduces the reliance on pesticides, benefiting both the ecosystem and agriculture.

5. State Dog – Blue Lacy

Blue lacy dog
Blue lacy dog | image by Rainbowbrooke via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris

The Blue Lacy, a working dog breed, was created by the Lacy brothers in 19th century Texas. In 2001, the Texas Senate officially recognized this dog breed as a true Texan. Then, in 2005, it was even acknowledged as the only breed originating from the state. Governor Rick Perry declared the Blue Lacy as Texas’ official State Dog Breed on June 18, 2005. 

The decision acknowledged the breed’s vital role in Texan ranching culture, where it proved invaluable for herding and hunting. These dogs embody intelligence, energy, and trainability traits, making them an integral part of the ranching community. Despite being on the brink of extinction in the 1970s, dedicated preservation efforts have successfully revived its population.

6. State Horse – American quarter horse

American quarter horse
American quarter horse | image by evelynbelgium via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Equus caballus

The American Quarter Horse, known for its incredible speed in quarter-mile races, is a highly esteemed American breed. It excels in rodeos, horse shows, and as a reliable ranch horse. Due to its unique attributes, this horse is perfectly suited for the intricate and fast maneuvers often needed in different western riding events. In 2009, Texas declared the American Quarter Horse as its official state horse

The Quarter Horse’s lineage can be traced back to the early American colonies, particularly to Texas after its colonization in the 1820s. This makes it a fitting choice.

The Texas Longhorn’s iconic status in Texan history and culture was further solidified during the late 1800s cattle drives. Its strength, intelligence, speed, and toughness played a critical role in these drives.

7. State Fish – Guadalupe bass

Guadalupe bass
Guadalupe bass | image by Nick Loveland via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Micropterus treculii

The Guadalupe bass is a fish species found exclusively in Texas. It thrives in the state’s beautiful creeks and rivers, particularly the Guadalupe River, which serves as its namesake.

Since 1989, the official state fish of Texas has become an important symbol of the region’s diverse aquatic life. This species, which is at risk of becoming threatened, can be quite difficult to tell apart from smallmouth or spotted bass because they look so similar. 

Additionally, the Guadalupe bass has a reputation for hybridization. Many fly fishermen and boaters now practice catch-and-release methods to protect and enhance fish populations. The Guadalupe bass’s rarity, ecological importance, and Texas’s conservation efforts make it the perfect choice for the state’s official fish.

8. State Insect – Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly | Image by Bill Barlow from Pixabay
  • Scientific Name: Danaus plexippus

The Monarch butterfly is a well-recognized symbol of North America due to its distinctive annual migration pattern and its eye-catching black, orange, and white wing pattern. These butterflies make their way through Texas twice a year, leaving behind eggs and refueling, playing a special part in the state’s ecosystem. 

You may also like:  9 Non-Venomous Snakes in Texas

The state of Texas designated the monarch butterfly as the official state insect on June 16, 1995, in honor of the butterfly’s unique role in Texas’ history and culture. To emphasize the butterfly’s importance to Texas’ natural environment, state representatives compared its attractiveness and tenacity to the character of the Lone Star State. Their predictable return makes Monarch butterfly viewing a recurring event in Texas.

Louise Robles

About Louise Robles

Louise writes about a wide variety of topics including wildlife, animals, and nature. She's developed a growing interest in animal biology and categorization due to her fascination with how they interact with one another and with their surroundings.