Wildlife In Georgia (A List Of The Most Prolific Animals In Georgia)

While Georgia has a lot of city and suburban areas for its citizens, the state is also known for being teeming with a vast amount of wildlife!

Georgia is home to two national forests that take up over 800,000 acres of space, making it the perfect place for animals to thrive.

However, you may be wondering exactly what types of wildlife can be found in Georgia. This state houses various animals, including but not limited to black bears, beavers, green tree frogs, and more.

Join Floofmania as we dive into Georgia’s wildlife, from what are the most common animals in the state to what animals once lived in Georgia!

The Official Animal of Georgia

Initially, the official state animal of Georgia was the North Atlantic right whale, which got its title back in 1985.

This was likely due to Georgia’s efforts in preserving these whales since the North Atlantic right whale has a calving territory on a nearby coast.

However, the more recent official animal of Georgia is the white-tailed deer, as declared by House Bill 70 in 2015.

The white-tailed deer became a new official animal of the state since some elementary school students wondered why Georgia did not have a state mammal.

While the North Atlantic right whale is a marine mammal, the students decided that they wanted an animal that would be easier to recognize by the state’s citizens.

Therefore, the state of Georgia technically has two official mammals, the white-tailed deer, and the North Atlantic right whale.

Animals That Are Typical For Georgia

Other than house pets and livestock, the animals that are typically found in Georgia are various kinds of forest wildlife.

Some examples of the more common animals you can find in Georgia are:

  • Deer
  • Bats
  • Coyotes
  • Bears
  • Weasels
  • Foxes

Georgia also has a coastline that has loads of marine life, such as:

  • Whales
  • Turtles
  • Dolphins
  • Shrimp
  • Crabs
  • Oysters
  • Manatees 

Of course, there will be specific species of each animal that you can find in the state, so let’s get into it!

The Most Common Mammals In Georgia

Some of the easiest animals to spot in Georgia are mammals, and here are a few you are likely to run into in the forests:

1. The White-Tailed Deer

A spotted white-tailed deer lying in the grass.

Being one of the official animals of Georgia, the white-tailed deer is also one of the most common mammals you will find in the state.

While there has been a decline in white-tailed deer numbers, there are still over a million of them roaming Georgia.

You can find white-tailed deer in Georgia’s forests, where they will be roaming the coastal marshes and treelines.

If you are hoping to spot a white-tailed deer, it is important to know that their fur changes color depending on the season!

White-tailed deer sport reddish-brown coats in summer, but their fur will turn grayish brown during the winter.

However, you will know you have spotted a white-tailed deer once you see its underside, which should be white all the way to its tail – hence the name!

2. Virginia Opossum

An opossum balancing on a wooden fence.

Virginia opossums, which happen to be the only species of opossums in the United States, are easy creatures to spot in Georgia.

Opossums normally prefer the forests of Georgia since they have lots of shelter and food there. They will usually forage insects, grains, and fruits.

However, they are highly adaptable animals, so you can easily find one in the city and suburban areas, where they will eat out of pet food dishes, garbage cans, and compost piles.

3. Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Another common mammal you can look out for in Georgia is the Eastern cottontail rabbit, which lives throughout the state. It is often found in wooden thickets and grassy areas.

Amongst the four species of rabbits in Georgia, Eastern cotton tail rabbits are the most prolific species since they can have up to seven litters per year.

You can distinguish an Eastern cottontail rabbit from other species by looking for gray-brown or red-brown fur with a white underside. 

4. Gray Squirrel

Georgia is home to a few species of squirrels, but the most common one is the gray squirrel. You can find them in urban and rural areas throughout the state.

As you can guess by the name, most gray squirrels have predominantly gray fur, but often have a white underside.

However, gray squirrels can have color variations in their fur, so you can find ones with red, black, or white fur!

5. Black Bear

Black bear in front of a tree, looking towards the camera.

While the black bear is the only species of bear in Georgia, it also happens to be one of the most common mammals.

The black bear is considered a testament to the natural diversity of Georgia. There are more than 4,000 black bears in the state, which is thanks to the state’s excellent wildlife practices.

Black bears are easily spotted in the north Georgia mountains, where they can easily find shelter and hunt for food.

You can also find them in the central and lower areas of Georgia, usually along Okefenokee Swamp and the Ocmulgee River drainage.

Luckily, black bears are less aggressive than their other bear relatives since black bear attacks are rare, but it is always best to keep your distance from one.

The Most Common Birds In Georgia

Georgia is a state rich with trees and forests, making it an ideal habitat for many birds to live in. Here are a few birds that you can easily see in Georgia:

1. Northern Cardinal

A northern cardinal bird sitting on a branch.

The bird that you can easily find in Georgia is the Northern Cardinal, which counts for over 50% of all the birds spotted in the area according to local bird watchers.

While you can spot Northern Cardinals throughout the state, you can usually see them foraging for food like insects, fruit, and seeds in the state’s dense vegetation.

Northern Cardinals can also be silly critters as the males have been seen attacking their own reflections during mating season, thinking they are defending their territories.

2. Mourning Dove

Another common bird in Georgia is the Mourning Dove, which can be found all year in the state.

While you can see them throughout the state, you can easily find one perched on telephone wires.

Mourning Doves also enjoy being in backyards, fields, and grasslands, where they look for seeds on the ground.

3. Carolina Wren

The second most common bird species is the Carolina Wren, which is often found by Georgia residents since they do not migrate.

Similar to the Mourning Dove, you can find Carolina Wrens all year in Georgia.

Try not to get too near one, as Carolina Wrens are known to be shy and will fly away as soon as they see people.

4. Blue Jay

A blue jay bird eating peanuts.

If you are hoping to find a bird that you can easily recognize, you are in luck because the Blue Jay is found year-round in Georgia.

As you can guess by the name, Blue Jays have predominantly blue feathers with white and black markings and a white underside.

It can be easy to know if a Blue Jay is near you since they are noisy birds. Normally, they like to be in forests, but they will frequent people’s backyards, especially if the backyards have a feeder.

5. Carolina Chickadees

Finally, a permanent resident of Georgia is the Carolina Chickadee. You have a high chance of seeing them since they are in the state year-round and do not migrate.

They are fairly small birds with big heads, and they have a mixture of white, gray, and black feathers.

Visually, they look a lot like Black-capped Chickadees, and these species will interbreed if their territories cross paths. 

The Most Common Amphibians In Georgia

A frog's head peaking up from the water's surface with a butterfly sitting on it.

Thanks to Georgia’s lakes and forests, it has become a home for many amphibians, and here is a quick look at the common ones:

1. Green Tree Frog

A green tree frog sitting on a branch.

Common in both pet stores and Georgia’s forests, green tree frogs are amongst the most prolific amphibians in the state.

Based on the name, the green tree frog has a bright green color, but a white underside. They are also known to slightly change color based on temperature and light.

Despite being common in the state, it is actually hard to find green tree frogs since they like to live high up on trees.

2. American Bullfrog

Easily found by permanent bodies of water (lakes, ponds, and swamps), the American Bullfrog can be easily found in Georgia.

American Bullfrogs happen to also be one of the biggest amphibians in the state as they can weigh up to 1.5 pounds!

3. Green Frogs

Similar to the American Bullfrog, you can find green frogs around permanent bodies of water in Georgia.

What makes green frogs unique is their single-note call, which sounds like this! 

4. American Toad

American Toads are easily spotted along northern Georgia, and they have distinct warts on their legs and back.

As for color, American Toads can be brick red, olive, and brown to gray, and they often have dark spots and patches of light colors like yellow.

5. Red Salamander

Often found near bodies of water or hunting on rainy nights, red salamanders are one of the more common salamanders in Georgia.

While they are normally bright red (hence the name) with dark spots, their color darkens with age as the dark spots blend with the rest of their skin.

The Most Common Reptiles In Georgia

Georgia has its fair share of reptiles, especially since it is home to smaller bodies of water like Lake Blackshear and Okefenokee Swamp that house them. Examples of common reptiles you can find include:

1. American Alligator

The face of an American alligator in profile.

With a population of over 200,000, American Alligators are common reptiles in Georgia, often being found south of the “fall line.”

American Alligators often stay south of that line because the weather north of the line is too cold for them. If you happen to see one north of the line, it was probably brought there by humans.

2. Common Snapping Turtle

As you can guess by the name, the common snapping turtle is one of the more common turtle species you can find in Georgia.

Common snapping turtles are large turtles as they can reach up to 19.3 inches (or 1.6 feet) long and weigh as much as 75 pounds.

While turtles are normally considered docile and shy creatures, the common snapping turtle is an exception! In fact, they are considered one of the more dangerous animals in Georgia.

They get their names because they use their strong mouths (that have beak-like tips) to bite their prey. 

Even if snapping turtles do not actively attack people, they will have no problem biting you if they feel threatened. 

Luckily, common snapping turtles in Georgia are usually hiding in the water, but they feel vulnerable once on land. As such, you could be seen as a threat if you are near them on land!

3. Florida Pine Snake

Despite having the name “Florida,” Florida Pine snakes can be found in Georgia, specifically in the coastal plains.

Georgia is estimated to have around 46 species of snakes, making Georgia one of the more heavily snake-populated states in the United States of America.

These snakes have beige to tan colors, and they stand out from other snakes by having disproportionately small heads!

4. Cottonmouth Snake

Typically found in the coastal plain but also the western stateside, cottonmouth snakes are often found in Georgia.

You can distinguish cottonmouth snakes from other species by their yellowish olive to a black color and 13 wide black crossbands along their spines.

Remember that this species is venomous, so it is best to stay away from them.

5. Dekay’s Brownsnake

These snakes are often light brown to dark brown (hence the name) with rows of dark spots on their back.

Dekay’s Brownsnakes can handle being in most habitats given that there is cover available, like debris and rocks. As such, you can find them in gardens and backyards under objects.

The Most Common Fish In Georgia

With lakes and the ocean in and around Georgia, there are loads of fish within the area, and some common ones are:

1. Largemouth Bass

A largemouth bass with fishingline coming out from its mouth, being held in a hand by an angler.

Largemouth bass are easily found throughout Georgia, especially since they are the most widely distributed fish worldwide.

You can find Largemouth Bass in ponds, lakes, and rivers, and they have dark green backs with white underbellies.

2. Trout

Another prolific fish found in the freshwater streams of Georgia is trout. It is estimated that there are over one million trout in Georgia!

Trouts have a golden brown body, with a pinkish-red stripe in the middle to the undersides of their bodies.

3. Walleye

These olive-green and gold-colored fish populate Georgia’s waters, often being found in the rivers and lakes.

Walleye are available year-round in Georgia, but they are most abundant in early spring since it is their peak season.

4. Red Snapper

As you can guess by its name, the red snapper is a bright red and large fish. Due to their size, they are usually 20 to 60 miles offshore, hiding under wrecks and reefs.

5. Redfish

Despite their name, Redfish are a coppery-gold colored fish that dominate the Georgia salt waters, and it also happens to be one of Georgia’s state fish. 

How To Act Around Wild Animals In Georgia

Whether you are in Georgia or any other state, there is always one rule you should follow when it comes to being around wild animals: give them space.

Wild animals are far from your usual house cat or pet dog. These animals have instincts that can make them run away or even attack you when they feel threatened

Most wild animals will rarely see humans, so they will deem you as dangerous. They are unlikely to let you pet them, or even be near them. They are called wild for a reason!

For most animals, the best trick is to keep slowly going away until you are out of the animal’s sight.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, slowly backing away while making loud noises and standing tall is recommended when it comes to being spotted by a mountain lion.

Endangered Species In Georgia

Despite having lush forests and good wildlife practices, there are still threatened species that reside in Georgia. Here is a quick rundown of some:

  • Hellbender
  • West Indian Manatee
  • Gray Bat
  • Beautiful Crayfish (Cambarus Speciosus)
  • Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  • North Atlantic Right Whale
  • Finback Whale
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle

Extinct Animals That Used To Live In Georgia

With global warming, illegal hunting, etc., some animals have become extinct in Georgia, and here are some examples to name a few:

  • Carolina Parakeet
  • Ivory-billed Woodpecker
  • Passenger Pigeon

Places In Georgia To Spot Wild Animals

If you are hoping to watch some wild animals in their natural habitat, here are places that you can visit in Georgia:

  1. Tribble Mill Park
    A large park with two lakes, a waterfall, and lots of gorgeous trails.
  2. Phinizy Center and Nature Park
    A huge nature park featuring wetlands and woodlands, plus centers for research.
  3. Panola Mountain State Park
    A smaller park filled with a granite outcrop.
  4. Cannon’s Point Preserve
    A large maritime forest.
  5. Chattahoochee River National Park
    A national park with rivers for swimmers and anglers.

Zoos In Georgia

If you are not in the mood to search for animals in the wild, you can always pop by the local zoos in Georgia to check them out!

  • Zoo Atlanta
    A zoo that is home to the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project.
  • Chehaw Park and Zoo
    An outdoor zoo with over 73 species of animals.
  • Georgia Aquarium
    An aquarium with thousands of marine life within 11 million gallons of water.

Author: Allison Marie Dinglasan

Hello! I am Allison, an avid writer for 6 years with a deep interest in animals since I was a child. I grew up on Animal Planet and animal books and often did rescue work for stray and sickly cats, dogs, and birds in my area, which led to over 60 rescues. My future goal is to be a veterinarian to have a more hands-on approach to helping and learning about animals!

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