20 Amazing Rare Mammals in the United States

Below you will find a list of 20 amazing and rare mammals that can be found in the lower 48 states of the United States. Some of these animals you have heard of but will be shocked at how rare they are. Some you will have heard of but had no idea that they can be found in the lower 48. And then there are some amazing mammals that you will have no clue even existed. Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comment section!

1) Manatee

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photo credit: Manatee at Chassahowitzka River via photopin (license)

The Florida Manatee, also known as a Sea Cow, is primarily found in Florida but has been spotted as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts. Adult Manatees average 9 feet long and 1000 pounds.

2) Ocelot

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photo credit: Ocelot Standing on a Branch via photopin (license)

The Ocelot is one animal most in the US have never heard of. It is also known as the dwarf leopard and is found is far southern Texas. There have also been reports, although rare, in southern New Mexico and Arizona.

3) Red Wolf

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photo credit: Who’s afraid of this big bad wolf? via photopin (license)

The Grey Wolf gets most of the publicity but there are other species of wolves in the US that are rarely mentioned. One of them is the Red Wolf. The Red Wolf is an endangered spieces and has been spotted as far north as southern New York and as far west as Texas. There is estimated to only be about 50-75 Red Wolves left in the wild.

4) California Condor

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photo credit: Condor Canyon via photopin (license)

The California Condor is listed as critically endangered and at one point was extinct in the wild. There was as little as 27 of these birds (captive or wild) in 1987. Thankfully with reintroduction the bird population has slightly grown (estimated at only 450 captive or wild now). This is the largest bird in North America with a wing span of up to 9.8 feet. The California Condor is sadly one of the rarest birds on Earth due to habitat loss and DDT poisoning. If you are lucky enough to spot one, you would find them in Central/Southern California, Arizona or Utah.

5) Big Horn Sheep

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photo credit: Bighorn Ram in Snowy Grass via photopin (license)

Big Horn Sheep at one point, numbered in the millions in the US. Sadly, that number is in the several thousands now. But thanks to conservation efforts, many of their territories are now protected. You can find three subspecies of bighorn sheep in the US: Rocky Mountain Bighorn (Rocky Mountains and Pacific North West), Sierra Nevada Bighorn (Sierra Nevada California Region), and Desert Bighorn (Southwestern US).

6) Bison

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photo credit: Bison (Buffalo) via photopin (license)

The Bison or Buffalo, one of the most iconic North American mammals. Almost everyone knows about them so why are they on this list? Well that is because at one point there was an estimated 50 million bison roaming North America. Now, only 150,000 thanks almost entirely to human hunting. In fact, the American Bison is only 1 of 4 bison species that roamed the US that is not extinct. Yellowstone NP is one of the only places you can view wild Bison in the US.

7) Bobcat

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photo credit: portrait of Allie via photopin (license)

The bobcat population in the US is actually quite strong. But since they are such an elusive animal, they are rarely seen. This feline can be found in almost every state in the US.

8) Sea Lion

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photo credit: Baby Sea Lion via photopin (license)

Sea Lions can be found all along the western United States Coast. But are primarily seen in California.

9) Pronghorn

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photo credit: Pronghorn via photopin (license)

Pronghorn antelope is a mammal I had never heard of until moving to the west coast. They are found in the Great Plains, Wyoming, Montana, California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. They are the fastest North American land animal with speeds up to 60 mph.

10) Cougar

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photo credit: Puma_D802744 via photopin (license)

Mountain Lion, Cougar, Puma, Panther, Florida Panther, catamount and any other name it has. They roam in every state of the US (although rarely seen in eastern US with the exception of Florida). Males can be up to 8 feet long (nose to tail) and weigh up to 220 pounds.

11) Moose

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photo credit: Scratching Post via photopin (license)

Moose, the largest animal in the deer family can be found in Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming.

12) Grizzly Bear

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photo credit: Lunch Time via photopin (license)

Grizzly Bears used to roam much of the Western United States. These days they can only be found in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana for the lower 48 states. There is estimated to only be around 1500 grizzles in the lower 48.

13) Jaguarundi

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photo credit: puma yagouaroundi via photopin (license)

The what? The Jaguarundi. The Jaguarundi is commonly found in South and Central America. It can also be found in southern Texas and coastal Mexico regions.

14) Killer Whale

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photo credit: Show off one via photopin (license)

Killer Whales or Orcas are found in every ocean. And with large populations of seals and sea lions on the US coasts, it is not surprising that Orcas are spotted off our shores. I have included them in this list because although they are common, many will not get the privilege to see one in person (unless you count Sea World which is just evil, another discussion for another day).

15) Ringtail Cat

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photo credit: Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) in Northern CA (2) via photopin (license)

This is another mammal I had never heard about until moving west. The Ringtail Cat is of the Raccoon family and can be found in California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Nevada, Texas, and Utah. The Ringtail cat is nocturnal, so good luck spotting one. It is also the state mammal of Arizona.

16) Woodland Caribou

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photo credit: Road to Toklat via photopin (license)

The great Woodland Caribou will only be found in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and Montana. They are the largest of the Caribou species and are listed as endangered.

17) Seals

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photo credit: Vocalizing male Northern elephant seal via photopin (license)

Seals can be found on almost all of the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines of the US. Elephant Seals on all of the Pacific Coast. Harbor Seals on both coasts. Caribbean monk seal occasionally in Florida. Gray seals in the Northeast United States. Guadalupe fur seals off of California. And Northern fur seals off of the west coast. Even with them being common, they are still a site to see.

18) Mountain Goat

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photo credit: Above it All via photopin (license)

The Rocky Mountain Goat can be found in the Rocky Mountains and Cascade Ranges of the US. Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, South Dakota, and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington are part of their range. These goats are unique as there habitat is generally composed of steep rocky slopes.

19) Jaguar

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photo credit: Sri Lankan Leopard via photopin (license)

Yes, Jaguars in the United States. Don’t believe me?

The largest cat in the America’s and the animal that inspired this post. I had no idea that Jaguars were in North America, let alone the United States. But it is believed that there are breeding populations in souther Arizona and New Mexico. The have been spotted in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Southern California.

20) Mexican Gray Wolf

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photo credit: Binder Park Zoo 05-20-2015 – Mexican Wolf 24 via photopin (license)

These wolves were once common in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. But due to hunting they were almost driven to extinction. Thanks to a collaboration between the US and Mexico, all remaining wild Mexican Gray Wolves were captured and put into a conservation breeding program. Now you may think that was a drastic move, but there were only 5 known wolves left in the wild, so drastic measures were needed. The populations are now above 100 wolves and growing thanks to conservation efforts. They are only found in Eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico currently.

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