white tail deer in a field of flowers
August 23, 2019

The Smokies are known for diverse wildlife. The unofficial mascot is the black bear, but there are many other animals that live in this habitat. Check out the top 5 kinds of wildlife in the Smoky Mountains you might see:

1. Black Bears

black bear in a fieldBlack bears are probably the first animal you think of in regards to the Smoky Mountains. Experts guess there are about 1,500 black bears in the national park. These animals can live about 12 to 15 years. Male black bears weigh around 250 pounds while females weigh a little over 100 pounds. In the fall, the weight of a bear can double since they’re getting ready to hibernate. These creatures are omnivores, eating plants, fish, and nuts. If you see a black bear while you’re in the Smokies, you should not approach it. Stay a safe distance away from these animals because they are wild and unpredictable. You can enjoy seeing them from a safe distance. You might see bears in Cades Cove, along hiking trails, and many other areas.

2. White Tail Deer

You are most likely to see a white tail deer as far as wildlife in the Smoky Mountains are concerned. However, you won’t be likely to spot them in the woods. Deer tend to venture out into open fields like in Cades Cove and the Cataloochee Valley. These animals typically eat plants, fruits, and nuts. Fawns use their spots to camouflage themselves since they have no other way to protect themselves from predators. Male deer start growing their horns during their second year, and by the fall, they are ready to be used to fight for mating rights. The antlers fall off in the winter and start the process all over again.

3. Wild Turkey

two turkeys with their wings up

Early in the mornings is when you’ll probably see wild turkey walking around. They prefer to feed in open fields, similar to deer. Turkeys eat nuts and bugs, which makes them omnivores. Males weigh 11 to 24 pounds, while females weigh 5.5 to 11 pounds. Hens lay about 11 to 14 eggs at a time. You’re likely to see wild turkey in the same areas as deer: Cades Cove and the Cataloochee Valley.

4. Raccoons

Raccoons are another common type of wildlife in the Smoky Mountains you might see while you’re here. They are known for being nocturnal, but people have spotted these animals out during the day. These animals typically weigh from 10 to 30 pounds, but some can weigh as much as 60 pounds depending on their diet. Raccoons are known for washing their food before they eat it.

5. Salamanders

black and yellow salamander on a rock

If you spend any time near a stream or a creek while you’re in the national park, you’ll probably spot a salamander or two. The Smokies are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World.” There are over 30 species, making the national park one of the most diverse areas for these creatures. They are likely going to be in or near water because most have gills.

These are just some of the wildlife in the Smoky Mountains you might see. Other animals include elk, bobcats, coyote, and various types of birds. We want you to be safe and keep the animals safe, so read everything you need to know about animals in the Smokies before you come.