How many West Virginia creatures can you spot?
West Virginia is home to over 500 different species of wildlife ranging from birds to amphibians and everything in between. While there are so many wildlife species, West Virginia has some unique creatures specific to the Mountain State:
Golden Trout: Introduced to the public in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s centennial celebration, the golden trout has been a West Virginia staple ever since. Anglers come from near and far for their chance at reeling in this bright-yellow fish. During the first week of April ever year, a grand restocking event takes place – The Gold Rush. During this rush, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocks 40,000 golden rainbow trout at select locations, including several state parks to give anglers a chance at catching this prized fish. Want to catch one for yourself? Make sure to have your up to date fishing license!
Ruby Throated Hummingbird: Of the 21 species of hummingbirds that exist in the United States, only the ruby-throated hummingbird is found in West Virginia. This little bird coined its name due to the males ruby red throat. Since the hummingbird is migratory, you can only find this creature during the breeding season which starts mid-April, until the flowers fade in the fall. If you are hoping to catch a glimpse of this flying creature, make sure to plant some red flowers in your yard – their favorite!
Reptiles and Amphibians
Salamanders: With 34 species in 5 families, salamanders are the most diverse group of amphibians in West Virginia. One of the most famous salamanders in the state would be the Hellbender, mostly because it is the easiest to spot! Crowned the largest salamander in North America, the Hellbender grows to be 3 feet long. Breathing entirely through their skin, you can find this large salamander in clean, cool water with a lot of boulders to hide under.
Opossum: Although most marsupials reside in Australia, this four-legged crawler can be found in West Virginia. Of the two opossum species found on the North American Continent, the Virginia Opossum is the one found to reside in the mountain state. While some may refer to the opossum as a pest, these pink-nosed creatures bring no harm to humans.
WV Northern Flying Squirrel: This soft creature doesn’t need wings to fly. Currently protected as an endangered subspecies, you can find this foot-long squirrel atop the central Appalachian Mountains in the highest elevations of West Virginia. Unlike other squirrels, you can find the WV Northern Flying Squirrel out and about in the winter. Another differing factor is they forage on lichen and fungi growing above and below ground, instead of eating nuts.
Have you spotted all these WV creatures? Share your West Virginia wildlife photos with us!
This post was last updated on March 17, 2022