The western state of Colorado in the United States is known for its mountain ranges and national parks. You can’t miss the impressive wildlife of this region when talking about Colorado. This place is fortunate to have abundant wildlife and beautiful scenic views.
From the deserts to the mountains, gorgeous wildlife can be found throughout the state. They are known for animals like bison, sheep and bears. If you want to learn more about Colorado wildlife, keep reading!
More on Colorado Wildlife
Skiing, hiking, climbing, camping, backpacking, or even just watching wildlife all count as outdoor activities in Colorado. The state’s wildlife is equally captivating to residents of Colorado as it is to tourists.
473 bird species, 130 mammal species, 49 reptile species, 69 fish species, and 18 amphibian species make up Colorado’s diverse fauna. Mollusks and crustaceans are among the invertebrates found at BLM Colorado. This state is renowned nationwide for its large game hunting and stream fishing.
Many native wildlife species contribute to the state’s breathtaking natural splendour. Several less well-known but equally fascinating animals can be found in Colorado. Finding your favourite species requires knowing where and what to look for. Learn about the native wildlife of Colorado and where to find it here.
Animals in Colorado
1. Bighorn Sheep
The Rocky Mountains of Colorado are home to this species of sheep. These sheep are known for their big curled horns, weighing up to 14 kg. Bighorn sheep have wide-set eyes that give them a more comprehensive range of vision. In fact, bighorn sheep have great eyesight too, which helps them avoid predators. You can find these sheep in mountains and hilly areas in Colorado. They can also be found in Colorado deserts. Their hooves help them walk easily across the rocky terrain. They also climb mountains to stay safe from danger.
Although bighorn sheep can grow quite heavy, they still have several predators. This list includes other Colorado native animals like bears and mountain lions. But what do bighorn sheep eat? Their diet changes according to the season. In warmer months, they tend to eat grass, fruit and cloves. During winter, they switch to a diet of twigs and sage. Bighorn sheep in the deserts prefer to eat cacti.
2. Black Bear
Colorado is home to a large population of bears. You can find both brown bears and black bears in this state. They reside in the forests of Colorado but can also be found in aspen. Despite their name, this bear species comes in many colors, including blonde. These large animals can grow to weigh around 400 kgs or even more. Although they prefer forests, black bears also wander into urban areas.
They are one of the many species that hibernate during the winter. This means they stock up on enough food to fuel their body throughout the cold season. In the summer, black bears enjoy fruits and nuts. They also eat carcasses, deer, insects and honey. Hibernation helps black bears have enough energy during warmer weather.
If you ever encounter a bear, it’s best not to approach it. Although bears avoid people, they can get aggressive if they feel threatened. It’s also best to keep food hidden when camping, or you may attract bears.
3. North American Beaver
This species of beaver is known for its long, flat tail and hardworking nature. Colorado has a large population of beavers, mostly resting along the subalpine zone. These rodents like to make their home near lakes and rivers, which Colorado has many. Beavers prefer water bodies that are close to land. This allows them to make their burrows and dams but still be near land for wood. The beaver actually provides many ecological benefits to their environment. Their barriers help reduce erosion and recharge groundwater.
Beavers use their sharp, long front teeth to chew through wood. They use this wood to make lodges and dams. Their lodges are connected using underground tunnels and serve as a habitat for beavers. They make their burrows comfortable by using leaves, moss and wood. This helps keep their home dry and serves as cozy padding. Beavers also add ventilation to their burrows by poking air holes.
4. Mountain Lion
Although these animals are called mountain lions, they belong to the cougar family. These predators reside in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. You can also find them in forests and deserts. They are a rare species that is hardly ever seen in the wild. Mountain lions are carnivorous, living on a diet of small animals like raccoons and sheep. Despite being predators, they fall prey to bears. This animal is quite aggressive, so it’s best not to approach it if you see it.
Mountain lions are fast animals that can reach a speed of 10 mph. They are highly adaptable animals and also know how to swim. When it comes to hunting, they like to wait until nighttime. They lay flat and stalk their prey before pouncing on them. Since they have a powerful bite, their prey usually dies immediately.
A fun fact about mountain lions is that they cannot roar like other big cats. They make noises like purring and hissing instead.
5. Wild Horse
If you’re a fan of the Wild West, you probably like horses too. Wild horses can be found in many areas in Colorado, such as creeks and the Rocky Mountains. Surveys show that there are around 1800 wild horses in Colorado. You can also find multiple wild horse breeds, like paints and appaloosas. These equine animals live on a diet of mainly grass and shrubs. Like other equine animals, they graze rather than eat at once. Wild horses can graze on grass for up to 17 hours a day.
Once they are done grazing, they regurgitate and chew on the food. Another fact about wild horses is that they tend to live in herds. This way, it’s easier for them to avoid predators and scare them away. Unlike domestic horses, this species isn’t as friendly. They can become quite hostile if approached by humans. If you see a wild horse, it’s best to walk away.
6. Colorado Bison
The bison population in Colorado started with 18 bison and has now increased to over 25,000 across the state. These bison are the largest animals in North America and can weigh around 2000 lbs. You may think that bison is another name for buffalo, but that’s not true. Bison can be identified by the large humps on their back and curled horns. This species also tends to grow more fur and have “beards”. Just like wild horses, bison tend to stay in herds too.
During the warmer weather, the herds grow larger so the bison can reproduce. When it comes to reproduction, female bison give birth to one calf at a time. They are also known to graze on grass and consume a lot of food.
People in Colorado and other states use bison for many purposes. Apart from that, they are also hunted for their meat. Bison meat is very nutritious and has a lower fat content than beef.
Sticking to the topic of large animals, next on this list is the moose. You can find the shiras subspecies of moose in Colorado, a smaller variety. Despite being a smaller subspecies, they can still grow to weigh around 1000 lbs or more. These large animals are known for their massive horns and deep brown coat. Around 3500 moose live in Colorado, most of them in protected areas. If you want to see a moose, the best place to go is the state park.
The coolest thing about moose is that they shed their antlers once a year. This process starts with them rubbing the velvet off their antlers. Once winter rolls around, their antlers fall off. New growth begins in spring, and they have full-sized antlers by the end of summer.
Their large size has many benefits, especially during winter. They can easily walk in deep snow and don’t need to hibernate. In fact, some moose have also been known to wander to urban areas in winter.
8. Prairie Dog
You can find three different species of prairie dogs in Colorado. They are scattered throughout different areas of the state. These animals are often seen as pests since they dig holes in gardens. Not only are they related to squirrels, but they stand on two feet like them too. These creatures are herbivores and eat a diet of plants, seeds and fruits. They have quite pleasant personalities and tend to share their food. Unfortunately, these animals have many predators in the wild.
Some of their main predators are coyotes, hawks and snakes. They are also hunted and trapped by humans as a form of pest control. Despite having predators, prairie dogs still put up a fight. They are tough animals that have a hard bite and sharp claws.
Prairie dogs are also fast, which allows them to outrun danger. But one danger they can’t outrun is the bubonic plague. It’s the primary source of most prairie dog deaths. This plague tends to wipe out colonies of prairie dogs.
9. Gunnison Grouse
This bird has a unique appearance and can be found in southwestern Colorado. They have chubby bodies and a tail that fans out behind them. Their tail has many long feathers that have striped patterns on them. The two yellow egg-shaped sacs on their chest make the male gunnison grouse unique. These air sacs can inflate during mating season and produce a popping sound. Female grouse can be identified by their white eye markings.
When it comes to reproduction, the gunnison grouse has a unique mating ritual called lekking. This is when a male grouse fight and compete to mate with female grouse. A female grouse can lay around ten eggs at once.
This animal’s diet changes according to the season. They are omnivores and enjoy a diet of fruit, flowers and insects.
If you’re planning a trip to Colorado and want to witness the wildlife, their natural parks are the best places to visit. They have tons of animals that you can not only interact with but also feed. These animals are protected and help to repopulate endangered species.
What are your favorite animals from Colorado? Let us know in the comments!