NATIVE WILDLIFE IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS
Fort Worth is home to one of the country’s top zoos, but this wildlife park isn’t the only place for spotting animals in the local area. This Texas city’s parks and preserves are home to a diverse range of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might spot one of the following Fort Worth locals in its natural habitat.
With an estimated population of 5.5 million, Texas has more white-tailed deer than any other U.S. state. Many of these deer live in Fort Worth, and the city has no hunting preserves, so the local white-tailed deer population lives freely. People visiting the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge often spot white-tailed deer while they’re walking along the Cross Timbers Hiking Trail. However, local deer don’t always stick to wide-open spaces. In 2018, a curious white-tailed deer wandered into Cook Children’s urgent care facility! Look out for white-tailed deer tracks and droppings while you’re hiking around Fort Worth. If you see them, chances are that the local deer aren’t far away. White-tailed deer scare easily, so stay quiet to increase your chances of spotting these beautiful animals.
The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is home to a small, genetically pure bison herd. Just don’t confuse these majestic creatures for buffalo. While both animals are hulking horned beasts, buffalo are native to South Asia and Africa. That means you’ll never find buffalo roaming the plains, regardless of what popular songs say. Telling the two creatures apart is easy — bison have much shorter horns than buffalo, along with a distinct hump and thick beards. The bison play a key role in managing the Nature Center’s grassland. While they are native to the Fort Worth area, this herd hasn’t always been here. Millions of bison once roamed freely through Fort Worth and the state of Texas, but hunters nearly killed them all off by the late 19th century. This herd started with three bison from Wichita. Thanks to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge’s hard work, these native animals are now grazing freely in Fort Worth again, just as nature intended.
Alligators live in waterways around Texas, including Lake Worth, Eagle Mountain Lake, and the Trinity River. That might seem alarming, but there’s no need to be afraid. After unregulated hunting saw them facing extinction in the 1950s, alligators are scared of humans. Alligators will typically slink off to the safety of the water if they hear you coming. Look out for their eyes just above the surface, surveying the scene to make sure you’re not a threat. The space between their eyes is a good indicator of size. For example, if you see eyes about 10 inches apart, they probably belong to a 10-foot alligator. Don’t let that put you off from swimming, though. Simply stick to designated swimming areas around Fort Worth, and you’ll be fine. Avoid unmarked swimming spots with lush vegetation growing out of the water. Alligators love these waters because they can hide in the grass. Give them the space they deserve, and local alligator populations can continue to rebuild.
The Fort Worth area is home to many woodpecker species. Local varieties include the downy woodpecker, the red-bellied woodpecker, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker. These quirky birds are not too bothered by humans. You may spot them in the trees while you’re walking along suburban Fort Worth streets. Local woodpeckers have been known to cause extensive damage to Fort Worth homes. However, don’t jump to the wrong conclusion. These birds are not intentionally destructive. Building your own roosting box can divert your woodpecker’s attention. Once you give them a safe place to peck, you can live in harmony with the local woodpecker population. If you want to learn more about these misunderstood birds, why not join one of the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge’s regular woodpecker walks? Guides will teach you about their habits and take you to the best places for woodpecker watching.
The nine-banded armadillo is the only armadillo species found in the United States. How lucky are we that these unusual mammals call Fort Worth home? Don’t let its name fool you, though. Nine-banded armadillos can actually have between seven and 11 bands on their bodies. Nine-banded armadillos are nocturnal creatures. Since they love sleeping during the day and foraging for food at night, you may never see one. However, you might hear them digging and snuffling as they search for grubs and worms in the soil when the sun goes down. Most of Fort Worth’s nine-banded armadillos live at the Nature Center and Refuge. However, they’re not opposed to foraging around suburban gardens if they have better food! If you do find an armadillo in your yard, consider yourself lucky. These adorable creatures help keep insect populations under control.
Alligator Snapping Turtle
Unlike the common snapping turtle, which is found all over the U.S., alligator snapping turtles are proud Southerners. You’ll find them in several southern states, including Florida, Tennessee, and, of course, Texas. These intimidating creatures have rows of spikes on their shells that make them appear more like dinosaurs than modern reptiles! These snapping turtles have a reputation for being ornery, but you don’t have to fear them. They’d rather feast on live fish than your fingers. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t bite, and hard, if provoked. There are several accounts of alligator snapping turtles biting human fingers clean off! Alligator snapping turtles are a protected species in Texas. You might see them at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge or wandering along the roads on the city’s outskirts. Alligator snapping turtles search for mates and places to nest from late spring to early summer, so keep your eyes peeled for these fascinating creatures when the weather starts to get warm.
So, now you know about some of the native wildlife you can find in Fort Worth, Texas. Have you seen any other species around the area? If so, reach out to Hiley Buick GMC Of Fort Worth to let us know, and we’ll be sure to add them to our list!