Of the 181 mammals listed as occurring in the state of Texas, nearly 60 species have been verified in Big Thicket National Preserve. Beaver and river otter are sometimes seen in the rivers and streams. Eleven species of bats may be seen flying overhead at dusk, consuming the plentiful moths (over 1600 species), beetles, and mosquitoes. An array of rodents scurry in the understory while gray squirrels, fox squirrels, and flying squirrels move through the trees overhead. Skunks, raccoons, ringtails, opossums, and armadillos are common, but their nocturnal behavior makes them difficult to see during the day. White-tailed deer are the only native ungulate in the preserve and must compete for food with invasive feral hogs, who eat just about anything. Gray and red fox, coyotes, and bobcats are the primary predators on the prowl looking for a rodent, bird, or snake to fill their bellies.

This area was once famous for its black bear populations, but these were hunted heavily for over 100 years until they were
extirpated from southeast Texas in the 1950s. However, bears may be making a comeback from surrounding states. Local residents occasionally report sighting black bears, and while the bears do not seem to have established a permanent population here, regional resource managers believe there is a good chance that bears either from the Louisiana subspecies of the American black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) or from the Ozark region populations may eventually re-establish in the Big Thicket area.

Visit our
NPSpecies page for a complete list of mammals and other animals found in the preserve.


Last updated: February 8, 2021

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Mailing Address:

6044 FM 420
Kountze, TX 77625



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