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There are over 90 mammals are found in Nebraska, but many are small and seldom seen. Early morning or late evening is often the best times to watch for mammals.
Seldom Seen Mammals | Extinct Nebraska Mammals| What is a Mammal?
Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep - Before the 1900s, Audubon bighorn sheep inhabited parts of western Nebraska including the Wildcat Hills, the Pine Ridge, along the North Platte River to eastern Lincoln County, and along the Niobrara River. It is thought that the Audubon bighorn probably became extinct in the early 1900s with its last stronghold being the South Dakota badlands. Since 1981, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has been reintroducing Big Horn Sheep. You can now find them in the Pine Ridge and Wildcat Hills in the panhandle. Specific places to look are Cedar Canyon WMA, Montz Point Ranch (Platte River Basin Environments), Fort Robinson State Park and Fort Robinson WMA, Big Horn Sheep WMA, Ponderosa WMA,Peterson WMA, Pine Ridge National Recreation Area (pastures 16 – 18).
Checkout the Panhandle photo Gallery to see what the area looks like.
Click here for more information about Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep Distribution
Elk – The elk is Nebraska's largest big game species, and was once found throughout the state. Their numbers have been increasing over the last decade, and today there are an estimated 2500 elk in Nebraska. Elk are best found in early morning or evening hours. They can be found in the Pine Ridge, Wildcat Hills, Loess Canyons and along the North Platte River in the western third of Nebraska.
Wildlife Species Guide | Elk Natural History | Elk Return to Nebraska |Elk beyond the Pine Ridge |Elk Distribution Map
Prairie Dogs – Black-tailed prairie dogs live in colonies or "towns" that range in size from as small as one acre to several thousand acres. In many ways, a prairie dog town can be considered a biological oasis. Many wildlife species associate with prairie dogs, which provides a rewarding viewing experience. Prairie dog towns provide a source of food for some species and habitat for others. Prairie dog towns are the place to find the at-risk burrowing ows. Vacant burrows are also used by cottontail rabbits, small rodents snakes and hawks. Meadowlarks, grasshopper sparrows, and other birds are found in greater numbers in prairie dog towns than in the surrounding rangeland because they are attracted to the open spaces, where seeds and insects are more accessible. Prairie dogs can be viewed at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge and Prairie Dog WPA
Wildlife Species Guide
Pronghorn – The pronghorn is extremely fast, with a top speed of about 60 miles per hour, and can easily outrun any other animal that tries to catch it. It has a large-capacity respiratory system and slender, strong legs that lack the usual dewclaws of the deer family. While commonly called an antelope, it is actually but the sole species in a family found only in North America. Pronghorn can be found in panhandle and western sandhills on open range. Fort Robinson is a reliable location.
Wildlife Species Guide
There are 13 species of bats in Nebraska. They eat insects at night and can be readily seen at dusk. There are differences between bat flight and bird flight, but in general, bats fly quite well and maneuver through the air with sharper turns than birds. They can be found flying in virtually all habitats in Nebraska, even in urban environments. Learn more about Nebraska’s bats.
The river otter is the largest member of the Mustelidae family which, in Nebraska, includes the mink, weasels, skunks and badger. The river otter has made an outstanding comeback in Nebraska and can now be found nearly throughout the state near rivers. Throughout a year, an otter may occupy 50 or more miles of stream course. At any given time. otters may occupy only a few miles of stream, but will often move from one area to another. Otters exhibit more play behavior than do most wild animals, including wrestling, chasing other otters, tossing and diving for rocks and clamshells, and occasionally sliding. Otters are seldom seen, but their sign can be more readily found. Although sliding can be a play activity, and otters will repeatedly slide down a wet bank, sliding is more commonly a wintertime mode of overland travel. Otters will bound several times, then use their momentum to slide in the snow for 10 feet or more. After a snow event, visit a river to see if you can find tracks of an otter slide.
Wildlife Species Guide