South Carolina is a smallish state, but with three geographic regions, mild winters, and hot and humid summers, it is a paradise for all kinds of wildlife, from small rodents to badgers, mink, spiders, long-tailed weasels, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. The state is home to animals strange and pedestrian, predators and herbivores, some of the countrys rarest animals, and those seen and heard every day. Here are only a few of the fantastic beasts of South Carolina and where to find them:
The official state animal of South Carolina is the white-tailed deer, which, to be blunt, is found absolutely everywhere in the state.
South Carolinas official state bird is the Carolina wren, an aggressive little bird with a loud and confident voice. The state wild game bird is the wild turkey, which, like the white-tailed deer, is widespread. South Carolinas state duck is the wood duck, which is also called the Carolina duck.
The bottlenose dolphin is commonly seen off the coast of the state. The official migratory marine mammal is the northern right whale, which comes to the coastal waters to give birth.
A citizen of the state wont need to travel far to experience South Carolinas wildlife. All manner of birds, opossums, raccoons, skunks, wild hogs, and white-tailed deer are frequent visitors to farms and backyards. However, South Carolina does have 47 state parks that cover 9000 acres from the southern coast to the mountains. In these parks, the visitor can glimpse the less common animals such as the badger, the mink, alligators, and the long-tailed weasel.
Among the state and national parks is Table Rock State Park in Pickens County where people can fish for the state fish, the striped bass as well as catfish, trout, and bream at Pinnacle Lake and Lake Oolenoy. Other areas are Caesars Head State Park, where visitors can find black bears, try to get a glimpse of the endangered green salamander, and fish for trout in the rivers.
Found only 18 miles from Columbia, the state capital, Congaree National Park is home to feral pigs, otters, bobcats, and armadillos. Its waters hold many species of fish, including catfish. Other sites are Kings Mountain State Park and Paris Mountain State Park, with their many varieties of birds and fish. Hunting Island State Park is a barrier island thats home to alligators, deer, diamondback rattlesnakes, and many types of fish, including barracuda. It is where the rare loggerhead turtle hauls out to dig nests in the sand and lay eggs.
Besides the bottlenose dolphin and the right northern whale that visits seasonally, marine mammals found off South Carolinas coasts include the minke, sei, bowhead, fin, and humpback whales. Other marine mammals are the goose beaked whale, the sperm whale, the harbor seal, and the harbor porpoise, and other types of dolphins, beaked whales, and pilot whales. The West Indian manatee, a strange and peaceable creature somewhere between a walrus and a dolphin, is also found off South Carolina.
Though the gray wolf seems to have been extirpated from the state, some claim that the red wolf can still be found in South Carolinas forests. Some also claim that this canine is actually a cross between a wolf and a coyote. If it is still found in South Carolina, it must be the rarest of canines, and its status is critically endangered.
Canines that are not endangered are the grey fox and the red fox, which are also visitors to peoples yards. The coyote has also made its way into South Carolina as it has into other parts of North America.
Though people are wary of bats, they perform an important role in the ecosystem by eating mosquitoes and other insect pests such as cockroaches, Japanese beetles, leafhoppers, and cucumber beetles. Among the bats found in South Carolina are the big brown bat, the little brown bat, the evening bat, the eastern pipistrelle, and the hoary bat. Bats often roost in caves or in peoples attics or barns.
Rabbits found in South Carolina are the eastern cottontail, one of the most commonly seen rabbits, the swamp rabbit, and the marsh rabbit.
The bobcat is South Carolinas only extant big cat. The cougar was extirpated from the state, and its subspecies, the eastern cougar is extinct.
South Carolina also has a wealth of rodents, many of whom do find their way into buildings. They include the house mouse, which is common to the point of ubiquity even though it is not native to the state. Other rodents are more species of mice, including jumping mice, the black, Norway, hispid cotton and marsh rice rats, the musk rat, and voles. The state is also home to several species of squirrels, including the groundhog, the eastern chipmunk, and the southern flying squirrel. Beavers build their dams and lodges in South Carolinas ponds, streams, and swamps.
Though shrews arent rodents, they are mouse-sized creatures with long, pointed snouts. Among the shrews that populate South Carolina are the common or cinereus shrew, the least shrew, the southern and northern short-tailed shrews, and the tiny American pygmy shrew.
The black bear has stable populations in the northwest and the southeast parts of the state, and it at least passes through every other county. The only county where the black bear hasnt been seen is Bamberg County.
The opossum is the only marsupial in North America, and it is found just about everywhere in the state. It is not above raiding peoples garbage cans and building nests in the ductwork.
Mustelids in South Carolina include the mink, the long-tailed weasel, and the river otter. Minks are found in the upper Piedmont region and down in the marshes along the coast, and there are populations all through the rest of South Carolina.
The long-tailed weasel prefers the borders between the woods and fields, of which there are many in South Carolina. Though its not especially common, it has been implicated in raiding henhouses.
The river otter is found in the states coastal marshes and swamps, around beaver ponds and refuges for waterbirds.
Badgers, which are relatives of weasels, are also found in South Carolina. More robustly built than their cousins, badgers dig burrows called setts. A family of badgers is called a cete.
Another strange and fascinating creature is the nine-banded armadillo. Not native to the state, it has made its way north from South America. Females always give birth to identical quadruplets and both sexes jump 3 or 4 feet straight into the air when theyre startled.
South Carolina is a haven for all sorts of birds, from seagulls, terns, skimmers, and pelicans as well as birds that scurry along the shore in search of food such as plovers and oystercatchers.
Birds found in South Carolinas wetlands include rails, gallinules, bitterns, and grebes. Some wading birds are egrets, spoonbills, herons and ibises, and the endangered wood stork. Birds of prey include bald eagles, ospreys, kestrels, owls, hawks, falcons, and kites. Other birds are bluejays, robins, cardinals, kingfishers, cedar waxwings, crows, bluebirds, thrashers, chickadees, chimney swifts, phoebes, and many others.
The number of reptile species in South Carolina is also vast. The largest is the alligator, which lives in the states freshwater or brackish ponds, streams, rivers, and swamps. They are easy to find in the Savannah River and its tributaries. An adult male can grow to 15 feet long and weigh close to 1000 pounds.
The more humble reptiles include anoles, which live around human habitation and can change their color from brown to leaf green. There are skinks, fence lizards, horned lizards and geckos, glass lizards, and racerunners. Snakes include garter snakes, water snakes, black snakes, rat and corn snakes, and venomous rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, coral snakes, and copperheads.
Besides the loggerhead turtle, South Carolina is home to the leatherback sea turtle, the diamondback terrapin, the gopher tortoise, and species of freshwater turtles including the chicken turtle, the bog turtle, the common map turtle, the river and Florida cooters, and the mud turtles.
South Carolina amphibians include all types of frogs and toads including the American toad, the southern and northern cricket frogs, the bird-voiced tree frog, the squirrel tree frog, the bullfrog, the gopher frog, and the eastern spadefoot toad. Theres also the little grass frog and the spring peeper.
Salamanders are more elusive than frogs and toads, as their voices if they have voices, are quiet, and they live in moist places under rocks and leaves. Among them are the two-toed amphiuma, or the congo eel, which can be 4 feet long. South Carolina also contains sirens, mudpuppies, Alabama waterdogs, and hellbenders.
Like other warm places, much of South Carolinas wildlife is made up of insects. Among the least welcome are the fire ants, Palmetto bugs, bed bugs, cockroaches, termites, mosquitoes, weevils, scarab beetles and aphids, horseflies, and deerflies.
Among the insects that are tolerated if not welcomed are butterflies, the prettier species of moth such as the luna moth, bumblebees, honey bees, ladybugs, dragonflies such as the azure bluet and fireflies.
The Carolina wolf spider is the state spider, and South Carolina has other tiny predators such as jumping spiders, crab spiders, cellar spiders, nursery web spiders, fishing spiders, orb weavers, and green lynx spiders.
Some of the zoos in South Carolina include Charles Towne Landing, which recreates the conditions of Charleston when it was still an English settlement. Because of that, visitors can see bison, river otters, wood storks, and other wading birds. Columbias River Banks Zoo is also a favorite, as is the Greenville Zoo.
More wild animals found in South Carolina include native arachnids such as pillbugs, ticks, centipedes, millipedes, harvestmen, scorpions, and pseudoscorpions. Other common insects are wasps, hornets, treehoppers, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and beetles, including the Hercules beetle. The common and alligator snapping turtles are also found in South Carolina, and the black vulture and the turkey vulture feast on carrion, including the always plentiful roadkill. Amphibians include the seepage salamander, the marbled salamander, the southern zigzag salamander and the red-spotted newt.
Since South Carolina is home to so many creatures, it is inevitable that some are going to be dangerous to humans. The most dangerous include:
Besides the loggerhead sea turtle and the green salamander, endangered animals in South Carolina include:
South Carolina is home to 38 different species of snakes. Some common snakes in the state include the corn snake, black racer, rat snakes, mud snakes, and ribbon snakes. In addition, there are six species of water snakes (which are non-venomous) and 6 species of venomous snakes in the state. Venomous snakes in South Carolina include cottonmouth snakes, timber rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and copperheads.
The ambrosia beetle forms a symbiotic relationship with the ambrosia fungi
Don't eat raw eel! Their blood is poisonous to humans when consumed raw.
They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food
They're also called black pilot snakes due to a myth that they "pilot" venomous snakes to a den where they can go into brumation for the winter.
It's a strong fighter when caught on a fishing line
Cactus moths can cause serious damage to cacti in locations where they have no predators.
Corn snakes are partly arboreal and are excellent climbers.
When injured or damaged, the shell of the eastern box turtle can regenerate
The name chipmunk is derived from an Ojibwe word that means one who descends the trees headfirst.
When the glass lizard loses its tail it can grow another one. But the new tail lacks the markings of the old one and is usually shorter.
Rat snakes are medium-to-large, nonvenomous snakes that kill by constriction.
The eastern woodrat mating ritual involves a potentially deadly fight between the male and female before reproduction begins!
Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air
Although it is a tree squirrel, it spends most of its time on the ground.
Ladyfish are aggressive fighter when hooked, making them a favorite of anglers.
They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.
Females are about four times the size of males
The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees
Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.
Will mate with the entire flock!
Some gulls are capable of using tools
The modern Spectacled Bear, which lives in South America, is related to the Short-Faced Bear!
These snakes live underground, beneath piles of leaf litter or in thickets, and they are expert swimmers.
The Venus flytrap is among a group of plants that consumes animals
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Wildlife in South Carolina - Types of South Carolinian Animals - AZ Animals