Black Bear White Tail Deer

The state of Tennessee is home to a wide variety of mammals, especially those who make their homes in woodland and mountainous regions. Mammals ranging from the tiny chipmunk to the large black bear can all be found in the wilds of Tennessee. 

Throughout the state many larger mammals can be found in the hills and forested areas.  Such animals include the white-tailed deer, black bear bobcats, the red and gray fox, bears, cougars, and even panthers.  

Smaller mammals including squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, beavers, skunks, opossums, and other small rodents are also prevalent throughout the state. 

One of the most popular mammals of Tennessee is the white-tail deer, sometimes called the Southern white-tail deer or the Virginia deer (Odocoileus virginianus). These creatures are found throughout the entire state and are a frequent target for individuals who enjoy game hunting.  The white-tail deer’s coat is typically reddish-brown or grey depending on the season and the underbelly of the deer and it’s tail are white.  The white-tail buck typically weighs between 130 and 300 pounds, while the doe weighs between 90 and 200 pounds.  White-tail bucks re-grow their antlers each spring after mating season. The white-tail deer is the most commonly hunted deer in North America.

 The larger mammals of Tennessee typically live in the eastern region of the state from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains through the Cherokee National Forest to southeastern Tennessee.  The black bear is one such mammal which is common to this region.  In the past, these bears stayed away from campers and other humans, however in recent years black bears have ventured toward campers offering marshmallows and other treats. As a result, there has been an increase in black bear attacks when campers run out of treats and the bears remain hungry.  Some bears have even ventured into cities to hunt for additional food sources in preparation for their winter hibernation.  Park rangers and other wildlife conservationists recommend that humans avoid contact with wild bears as much as possible and use life saving precautions when approached by large animals. 

As for smaller mammals such as opossums, skunks, beavers, and raccoons, many can be spotted in suburban regions as well as more rural areas.  The raccoon is the state animal of Tennessee and is popularized through images of coonskin and coon tail hats similar to that of frontiersman Daniel Boone.  Opossums, skunks and raccoons are all known for their mischievous natures and their trash-hunting skills.  For this reason, many home owners do not appreciate seeing these mammals up close.  Similarly, mice and other rodents are also common in Tennessee and best observed in open fields.