Wildlife of North Carolina

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Deer feeding at roadside; doe with fawns

This article seeks to serve as a field-guide, central repository, and listing for the flora and fauna of the US state of North Carolina and surrounding territories.

State ecology[edit]

The North Mills River in North Carolina

North Carolina's geography is usually divided into three biomes: Coastal, Piedmont, and the Appalachian Mountains.

North Carolina is the most ecologically unique state in the southeast because its borders contain sub-tropical, temperate, and boreal habitats. Although the state is at temperate latitudes, the Appalachian Mountains and the Gulf Stream influence climate and, hence, the vegetation (flora) and animals (fauna).

Coastal region[edit]

Located in eastern North Carolina, the coastal region is much warmer and more humid. The climate is humid subtropical and the geography is flat coastal plain.


This region includes the Charlotte metropolitan area and urban biomes of Raleigh[1] and Durham, as well as a large area of semi-mountainous, rolling hills. The climate is humid subtropical and the geography is rolling, gentle hills and flat valleys. The Piedmont ranges from about 300–400 feet (90–120 m) elevation in the east to over 1,000 feet (300 m) in the west.


Turk's cap lily in mountainous western North Carolina

The mountainous region has a climate of humid continental and its geography is the Appalachian Mountains with elevations between 1500 and more than 6000 feet.

Animal life[edit]


E = Endangered








Even-toed ungulates:


Cardinalis cardinalis (northern cardinal)


Adult male Terrapene carolina carolina, North Carolina's state reptile


Frog, in Cary, North Carolina

Frogs are common in the marshy and wet regions of the Piedmont. The frog pictured at left is a Cope's gray treefrog (Hyla chrysocelis) or gray treefrog (H. versicolor). These two species cannot be differentiated except by their call or genetic analysis. However, H. versicolor is rare in the state and likely to not be pictured here. They are most abundant in some northern Piedmont counties. Other frogs of North Carolina include spring peepers, Pseudacris crucifer or Hyla crucifer. Common among Carolina forests, this frog lives in high branches of trees, although it is also seen on the ground and commonly on roadways.

Some common amphibians in North Carolina: two-toed amphiuma, common mudpuppy, dwarf waterdog, eastern lesser siren, greater siren, red-spotted newt, Mabee's salamander, spotted salamander, marbled salamander (state salamander), mole salamander, eastern tiger salamander, southern dusky salamander, dwarf salamander, four-toed salamander, Wehrle's salamander, eastern spadefoot, southern toad, Pine Barrens treefrog (state frog), Cope's gray treefrog, green treefrog, squirrel treefrog, gray treefrog, little grass frog, ornate chorus frog, upland chorus frog, American bullfrog, bronze frog, pickerel frog, southern leopard frog and wood frog.[5]


Freshwater: bodie bass, Roanoke bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, white bass, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, white catfish, brown bullhead, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel, redfin pickerel, American shad, hickory shad, pumpkinseed, redear, bluegill, flier, green sunfish, redbrest, warmouth, brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, garfish, bowfin, carp, crappie, freshwater drum, grass carp, kokanee salmon, muskellunge, tiger muskellunge, northern pike, sauger, eastern mosquitofish, smallmouth buffalo, walleye,[6] the endemic Cape Fear shiner.[7]

Saltwater: albacore, amberjack, Atlantic bonito, Atlantic tarpon, bank sea bass, barracuda, bigeye tuna, blackfin tuna, black drum, black sea bass, blacktip shark, bluefish, bluefin tuna, blue marlin, blueline tilefish, bull shark, butterfish, cobia, croaker, dolphinfish, flounder, gag, gray triggerfish, gray trout, hammerhead sharks, hickory shad, hogchoker, hogfish, humping mullet, king mackerel, knobbed porgy, lizardfish, little tunny, mako shark, menhaden, northern puffer, oyster toadfish, pigfish, pinfish, pompano, red drum, red grouper, red snapper, sailfish, scamp, sea mullet, searobin, sheepshead, silver perch, silver snapper, skate, skipjack tuna, spadefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled hind, spottail pinfish, spot, speckled trout, stingray, striped bass, swordfish, tiger shark, vermillion snapper, wahoo, white marlin, white grunt, yellowfin tuna, yellowedge grouper and yellowtail snapper.[8]


Various insects, jellyfish, millipedes, centipedes, freshwater crayfish and freshwater mollusks.[9]

Spiders: northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus), southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans), false black widow (Steatoda grossa), common house spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum), yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), leafy cob weaver (Theridion frondeum), spiny-backed orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), white sac spider (Elaver excepta) and orchard orb weaver (Leucauge venusta).

Mantises: Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)

Hymenoptera: European honey bee (Apis mellifera state insect), American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus), eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica), red paper wasp (Polistes carolina), eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus), red velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis) and red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).

Odonata: eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).

Lepidopterans: monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis).

Plant life[edit]

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)


  1. ^ "General Raleigh, NC Information". Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  2. ^ "Beaver Management in North Carolina - History". North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Archived from the original on April 16, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  3. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0". explorer.natureserve.org. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  4. ^ Cochran, Bill (June 17, 2004). "Virginia officials take no joy in elk celebration". The Roanoke Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  5. ^ [1] Archived February 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission". www.ncwildlife.org.
  7. ^ "AAFT". All-about-fish-teacher.blogspot.com. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  8. ^ "NCDMF Oyster Sanctuaries". Ncfisheries.net. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  9. ^ "Research & Collections". naturalsciences.org.

External links[edit]

General interest: