Animals That Live In Colorado

The lush landscapes of Colorado are the perfect home for many unique and beautiful animals that can commonly be spotted just by strolling across the state’s glistening rivers or hiking up its rocky mountains

So that you know what animals to look out for when you next visit the large and diverse state of Colorado, here are some of the most interesting and unique animals that have decided to call this lush part of America their home

Animals That Live In Colorado


As the largest mammal in all of North America, standing at a staggering 6 feet tall and weighing up to 2,000 pounds, herds of bison can commonly be found in the many nature reserves dotted across the state including the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Preserve and the Buffalo Herd Nature Preserve, however, you can also spot them strolling across Colorado’s Great Plains which they are known to occupy frequently. 

Bison actually used to be a much more common sight in Colorado, where they would rule much of the land and be at the top of the food chain compared to most other native animals, however, due to hunting and habitat loss, they are now a much rarer sight and were actually saved from the brink of extinction by preservationists at the end of the 20th century.

Prairie Dogs

Despite their name, prairie dogs are actually more closely related to squirrels and chipmunks in the way they act and even in how they look with their light brown fur coat and with and small black tail.

They are known to frequently burrow underground where they will store food and make tunnels to move around the northwest region of Colorado easily. 

There are actually three types of prairie dogs that can be found sprawled across Colorado, these being the black-tailed prairie dog, the white-tailed prairie dog, and the Gunnison which tends to reside more in the southwest of Colorado compared to the other two. 

Despite their slight differences in appearance and where they can be found, all variants of these small docile creatures thrive on the dry sagebrush ecosystem with them being herbivores that feed primarily on grass, plants, and leaves, though they will eat very small insects on occasion. 

Bighorn Sheep

The magnificent bighorn sheep are unfortunately becoming one of the rarest animals in Colorado after decades of hunting, however now that they are being better cared for in national parks and nature preserves, they have been saved from extinction and can even now be found roaming in the wild, especially across the steep and jagged walls of Colorado’s numerous wide open canyons(see also: What Animals Are Waiting For You In The Grand Canyon?). 

Animals That Live In Colorado (1)

These sheep are most recognizable for their large curved horns which can weigh up to 30lb. Females, also known as Ewes, also have horns, however, they are a little shorter than the males with less curvature.

These sheep are very proud of their horns, with them being a symbol of status and a weapon that they will often use when hunting down prey, or even when competing over a mate. 

Mountain Goats

With so many rocky mountains and canyons sprawled across the lush state of Colorado, this has meant that only those animals fit and capable of living in such conditions have been able to reside there, and this includes the mountain goat. 

Despite having a very bright and vibrant fluffy white appearance, mountain goats can actually be fairly aggressive, especially when feeling threatened where they will face their sharp pointed horns and charge towards any potential threats or prey. 

They can commonly be spotted roaming around Mt. Evans and the Front Range which are the best places to spot them, and since they are a fairly recent animal to be introduced to Colorado, only being found in the state’s alpine terrain since 1947, they still tend to roam around the same few mountain ranges. 

Black-Footed Ferret

While they once ranged across the western plains of multiple North American states, these small furry mammals were actually believed to be completely extinct until a small group was re-discovered in 1981. 

Since then, breeding and reintroduction programs have allowed more of these animals to survive, however they are still incredibly rare and actually depend on prairie dogs for their food and housing.  

These black, long and slender animals, despite their appearance, are actually a member of the weasel family and are about the same size as minks, making them a lot smaller and far less threatening than many of the much bigger mammals that traverse Colorado. 

Humpback Chub

The sparkling and crystal clear Colorado River is home to a few unique variants of animals, and this includes the humpback chub, a small and fragile fish that can only be found in warm water which is believed to have evolved around 3.5 million years ago. 

While it may be small in stature, this fish actually means a lot to the state of Colorado with it being an icon commonly seen on certain brand logos and which is now officially federally protected after it was becoming endangered due to the construction of massive dams across Colorado’s rivers. 

This fish is very well known for its signature ‘helicopter’ motion that it makes when bouncing out from the water, making it incredibly easy to spot when taking a nice and relaxing stroll across the long and jaw-dropping Colorado River. 


Wolverines were once a far more common sight in Colorado until the early 20th century when the majority of them were unfortunately wiped out by coyotes and other fierce predators.

In recent years however, preservationists have been uncovering more and more of these muscular mammals roaming around Colorado, with it now being estimated that a few hundred have survived. 

While they are rare, wolverines will often reside in the high mountain forests and tundra of the Rocky Mountains where they will seek shelter.


Next time you’re strolling through the lush and rocky terrain of Colorado, keep an eye out for some of these unique and beautiful animals along your travels. 

Olivia Kepner