American alligators are primarily found in southern Louisiana.
Forested areas in Louisiana range from pine forests in the northern region to cypress swamp forests in the south. Both forests have a wide variety of wildlife species. The warm temperatures in Louisiana attract birds during the winter months, and cold-blooded reptiles receive enough warmth to survive year-round. Many of the Louisiana forests’ wildlife species are also wetlands creatures, due to the high number of lakes and rivers in the state.
The Mississippi Kite, or Ictinia mississippiensis, is a hawk that migrates to the forests in southern Louisiana in the spring. These hawks usually stay on the fringes of the deep forests, but within close proximity of rivers and lakes. Birders can find Mississippi Kites on the highest branches of tall trees, including magnolias and white oaks. Adult Mississippi Kites are approximately 14 inches in length.
Northwest Louisiana forests are home to the red-headed woodpecker, or Melanerpes erythrocephalus, which seek refuge in this area of the United States in the fall and winter. This bird can be identified by the red feathers on its crown. When fully mature, these birds are approximately 5 to 7 inches in length.
The official Louisiana state mammal is the Louisiana black bear, or Ursus americanus luteolus. This black-haired mammal lives in central and southern Louisiana forests and is also found in southern Mississippi. Some black bears have white fur on their bellies. These bears weigh up to 400 lbs. when they are adults. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Louisiana black bears are threatened.
The swamp rabbit, or Sylvilagus aquaticus, is a small mammal found in southern Louisiana‘s forests and swamplands. This nocturnal animal forages for food at night and hides in tall grass during the day. The average length of an adult swamp rabbit is 19 inches.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the American bullfrog, or Lithobates catesbeianus, is the largest frog in the United States; adult frogs have a maximum length of 8 inches. American bullfrogs are found throughout the state of Louisiana, primarily in riparian and wetlands areas.
Found in southern Louisiana is the spotted salamander, or Ambystoma maculatum. Its native range extends from New England to the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Adult spotted salamanders are approximately 6 inches long. These types of amphibians are primarily active in the winter months.
The American alligator, or Alligator mississippiensis, is native to swamp forests, rivers and marshes in southern Louisiana. Male American alligators have an approximate length of 13 to 14 feet when they fully mature, while females reach lengths of 10 feet. These reptiles differ from crocodiles since the teeth on their upper jaw overlaps their lower jaw; in crocodiles, the lower teeth fit into their upper jaw.
The speckled kingsnake, or Lampropeltis getulua holbrooki, is found in forested areas in central and southern Louisiana, near the cities of Lake Charles and Alexandria. This snake has black scales with dashes of light-colored scales, giving it a “salt and pepper” appearance This type of snake is not venomous, but it will bite when threatened.