What Is the State Animal of Texas?

B. Chisholm

There are a number of state animals in Texas, divided into categories. The small state animal of Texas is the nine-banded armadillo. Its scientific species name is Dasypus novemcinctus and it originally came from Mexico. The flying mammal state animal of Texas is the Mexican freetail bat or Tadarida brasiliensis, a medium-sized species of bat. The large mammal state animal of Texas is the Longhorn, a breed of cattle with characteristically long horns, which are often used as a symbol of Texas.

Texas has several state animals of varying sizes.
Texas has several state animals of varying sizes.

The nine-banded armadillo, state animal of Texas in the small mammal class, gets its name from the nine bands in its scaly skin or armor, although the number may differ. They are normally cat-sized and are spread throughout areas of Texas with a mild climate. They do not survive in areas that are too arid or that have freezing conditions as they rely on the soil being soft enough to dig for food and make burrows. Their diet consists mainly of insects and grubs although they may, on occasion, eat vegetation and eggs.

The Mexican freetail bat is the state flying mammal of Texas.
The Mexican freetail bat is the state flying mammal of Texas.

Nine-banded armadillos are one of a tiny group of animals that produce identical, same-sex quadruplets from one egg, every time they reproduce. The gestation period is around 150 days and they give birth in a burrow. The babies stay with the mother for up to a year after being born before moving out on their own.

The state animal of Texas, in the flying mammal category, is the Mexican freetail bat. They are about 3.5 inches (9 cm) in height, a good proportion of which is made up of their tail, thus the name. They live in groups, mainly in caves, but may roost in buildings. Mexican freetail bats, like other bats, are nocturnal and fly using echolocation rather than sight. Their diet consists mainly of insects.

Mexican freetail bats produce one baby at a time. During mating season, the females gather in an area referred to as a crèche, where they all bring up their young together. The gestation period is about 12 weeks and the young stay with their mothers for up to seven weeks after birth.

Longhorn cattle are the large state animal of Texas. They are a beautiful breed of cattle and their characteristic horns are probably one of the most well-known symbols of the state of Texas. The cattle are generally farmed for beef. Indicative of the longhorn's statewide popularity, sports teams at the University of Texas are known by the nickname Texas Longhorns.

The large mammal state animal of Texas is the longhorn.
The large mammal state animal of Texas is the longhorn.

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Discussion Comments


@browncoat - I think the armadillo was only made one of the Texas state animals recently and there was a bit of resistance to it.

I'm not sure why they couldn't just leave it at the longhorns, which have been a symbol of Texas for a long time.

They are quite lovely animals, and very distinctive. I think generally if you are going to choose a state animal it should either be bringing attention to the state or attention to the animal for some reason. Generally, if the animal is endangered, for example, making it a state animal can help the cause and give people a reason to make sure it survives. The opposite is needed with the armadillo, as they are a bit of a pest.

But, I guess someone had a reason for choosing them and you do have to admit that they are survivors.


I think it's kind of adorable that the Texans chose the nine-banded armadillo for one of their state animals. For Texas that must have been a tough choice, since the armadillo doesn't seem to have the "big is better" sort of image that Texas generally seems to exude.

And the armadillo isn't even a native animal to Texas. It only came into the United States about a hundred years ago, but since people don't eat it for food and it doesn't have many natural predators, it's been expanding its natural territory rapidly.

They've actually been trying to encourage people to start hunting it, because it is close to becoming a pest (although it doesn't really do any environmental damage or anything.)

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