region

Animals of Virginia

106 species

Virginia is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The Commonwealth's population in 2020 was over 8.65 million.

White-tailed deer, one of 75 mammal species recorded in Virginia, rebounded from an estimated population of as few as 25 thousand in the 1930s to over one million by the 2010s. Native carnivorans include black bears, who have a population of around five to six thousand in the state, as well as bobcats, coyotes, both gray and red foxes, raccoons, weasels and skunks. Rodents include groundhogs, nutria, beavers, both gray squirrels and fox squirrels, chipmunks, and Allegheny woodrats, while the seventeen bat species include brown bats and the Virginia big-eared bat, the state mammal. The Virginia opossum is also the only marsupial native to the United States and Canada, and the native Appalachian cottontail was recognized in 1992 as a distinct species of rabbit, one of three found in the state. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises have also been recorded in Virginia's coastal waters, with bottlenose dolphins being the most frequent aquatic mammals.

Virginia's bird fauna consists of 422 counted species, of which 359 are regularly occurring, 41 are accidental, 20 are hypothetical, and two are extinct; of the regularly occurring species, 214 have bred in Virginia, while the rest are winter residents or transients in Virginia. Water birds include sandpipers, wood ducks, and Virginia rail, while common inland examples include warblers, woodpeckers, and cardinals, the state bird, and birds of prey include osprey, broad-winged hawks, and barred owls. There are no species of bird endemic to the Commonwealth. Audubon recognizes 21 Important Bird Areas in the state. Peregrine falcons, whose numbers dramatically declined due to DDT pesticide poisoning in the middle of the 20th century, are the focus of conservation efforts in the state and a reintroduction program in Shenandoah National Park.

Virginia has 226 species of freshwater fish from 25 families; the state's diverse array of fish species is attributable to its varied and humid climate, topography, interconnected river system, and lack of Pleistocene glaciers. The state's lakes and rivers are home to Eastern blacknose dace and sculpin on the Appalachian Plateau; smallmouth bass and redhorse sucker in the Ridge-and-Valley region; brook trout, the state fish, and Kanawha darter in the Blue Ridge; stripeback darter and Roanoke bass in the Piedmont; and swampfish, bluespotted sunfish, and pirate perch in the Tidewater. The Chesapeake Bay is host to clams, oysters, and 350 species of saltwater and estuarine fish, including the bay's most abundant finfish, the Bay anchovy, as well as the invasive blue catfish. An estimated 405 million Chesapeake blue crabs live in the bay as of 2020. There are 34 native species of crayfish, like the Big Sandy, which often inhabit rocky bottomed streambeds. Amphibians found in Virginia include the Cumberland Plateau salamander and Eastern hellbender, while the northern watersnake is the most common of the 32 snake species.

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Virginia is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The Commonwealth's population in 2020 was over 8.65 million.

White-tailed deer, one of 75 mammal species recorded in Virginia, rebounded from an estimated population of as few as 25 thousand in the 1930s to over one million by the 2010s. Native carnivorans include black bears, who have a population of around five to six thousand in the state, as well as bobcats, coyotes, both gray and red foxes, raccoons, weasels and skunks. Rodents include groundhogs, nutria, beavers, both gray squirrels and fox squirrels, chipmunks, and Allegheny woodrats, while the seventeen bat species include brown bats and the Virginia big-eared bat, the state mammal. The Virginia opossum is also the only marsupial native to the United States and Canada, and the native Appalachian cottontail was recognized in 1992 as a distinct species of rabbit, one of three found in the state. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises have also been recorded in Virginia's coastal waters, with bottlenose dolphins being the most frequent aquatic mammals.

Virginia's bird fauna consists of 422 counted species, of which 359 are regularly occurring, 41 are accidental, 20 are hypothetical, and two are extinct; of the regularly occurring species, 214 have bred in Virginia, while the rest are winter residents or transients in Virginia. Water birds include sandpipers, wood ducks, and Virginia rail, while common inland examples include warblers, woodpeckers, and cardinals, the state bird, and birds of prey include osprey, broad-winged hawks, and barred owls. There are no species of bird endemic to the Commonwealth. Audubon recognizes 21 Important Bird Areas in the state. Peregrine falcons, whose numbers dramatically declined due to DDT pesticide poisoning in the middle of the 20th century, are the focus of conservation efforts in the state and a reintroduction program in Shenandoah National Park.

Virginia has 226 species of freshwater fish from 25 families; the state's diverse array of fish species is attributable to its varied and humid climate, topography, interconnected river system, and lack of Pleistocene glaciers. The state's lakes and rivers are home to Eastern blacknose dace and sculpin on the Appalachian Plateau; smallmouth bass and redhorse sucker in the Ridge-and-Valley region; brook trout, the state fish, and Kanawha darter in the Blue Ridge; stripeback darter and Roanoke bass in the Piedmont; and swampfish, bluespotted sunfish, and pirate perch in the Tidewater. The Chesapeake Bay is host to clams, oysters, and 350 species of saltwater and estuarine fish, including the bay's most abundant finfish, the Bay anchovy, as well as the invasive blue catfish. An estimated 405 million Chesapeake blue crabs live in the bay as of 2020. There are 34 native species of crayfish, like the Big Sandy, which often inhabit rocky bottomed streambeds. Amphibians found in Virginia include the Cumberland Plateau salamander and Eastern hellbender, while the northern watersnake is the most common of the 32 snake species.

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