10 Interesting Animals In The Smoky Mountains You May Not Know

From elk and bobcats to wild boars and river otters, the Smoky Mountains are teeming with fascinating wildlife.

Interesting Animals In The Smoky Mountains You May Not Know

While some of these animals may be familiar, there are still plenty of species that may surprise you.

If you’re ready for a wild adventure full of interesting creatures that call the Smoky Mountains their home, then this article is for you!

1. Elk

Elk are the largest animal in the Smoky Mountains and you can easily spot them at Cataloochee roaming on the grasses as they graze in the open meadows.

These majestic creatures are heavy and strong with a shoulder length of 5 feet and have unique, curved antlers that make them stand out from other animals. 

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, head to the Smoky Mountains and catch a glimpse of elks at dawn or dusk.

After a long night of rest, they roam around in search of fresh, wet pastures. 

2. Big Cats

Big cats are some of the most majestic creatures in the Smoky Mountains. These predators include mountain lions, bobcats and lynx.

Mountain lions can grow up to 8 feet long, weigh 150 pounds and have a distinct tan coat with black spots. 

While these cats are typically solitary animals, they may be seen traveling in pairs or family groups during migration season. 

Lynx can also be spotted in the Smoky Mountains but these elusive cats tend to stay hidden away in densely wooded areas.

With their tufted ears, short legs and long fur-covered tails they are easy to recognize when they do make an appearance!

So if you ever find yourself in this beautiful region of the Appalachian Mountains, keep your eyes open – you just might get lucky enough to spot one of these big cats out on the prowl!

3. White-Tailed Deer

These pretty  animals are a common sight in the Smoky Mountains, with their majestic horns and distinctive coats.

White-tailed deer can be seen grazing in the wooded parts of the park during the day, foraging for grasses and other foliage found in the forest. 

During the mating season (spring to fall), bucks will grow antlers that they use to fight off other males in order to win the female.

By wintertime, these antlers will drop off and new ones will start to grow as spring approaches again. 

White-tailed deer are an important part of the local ecosystem and they help keep plants in balance by eating them in moderation.

So if you’re ever looking to spot one of these majestic creatures while visiting the Smoky Mountains, keep your eyes peeled!

4. Eastern Cougars

Eastern Cougars are immense beautiful cats that inhabit the Smoky Mountains.

Standing at 5 to 8 feet tall and weighing in at around 140 pounds, these majestic creatures tend to be quiet and solitary so it’s tricky to spot them.

This makes them a rare sight for visitors of the park, but Eastern Cougars can still be found wandering around the area on occasion. 

Even though they’re rarely seen, it’s important to remember that Eastern Cougars are dangerous animals and should not be approached if encountered while hiking or camping in the park.

So if you do come across one of these wild cats while exploring the Smoky Mountains make sure to keep your distance and enjoy their beauty from afar!

5. Wild Hounds 

Wild Hounds are a unique species of canine that can be found in the Smoky Mountains.

These animals are related to both wolves and dogs, and they look like a cross between the two.

They have thick fur, long legs, and sharp teeth that make them look quite intimidating. 

Despite their appearance, Wild Hounds are actually quite friendly and curious animals.

They’re known for being social creatures that love to explore their surroundings.

Visitors of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park may be lucky enough to spot one of these beautiful creatures while out on a hike or camping trip. 

If you do come across one of these majestic animals, it’s important to remember that they’re still wild animals so it’s best not to approach them or try to pet them as this could be dangerous for both parties involved.

Instead, just take some time to appreciate their beauty from a distance.

6. Coyotes

Coyotes are a common sight in the Smoky Mountains. They grow 3-5 feet and weigh around 50 pounds.

They are most active at night, so it is best to be cautious when out in the woods after dark.

Coyotes are social animals, often hunting in packs and living in dens in the mountain terrain. 

They typically feed on small prey such as rabbits, mice, voles, and other rodents, but can also take down larger animals if the opportunity presents itself.

Coyotes are also known to scavenge for food and may even venture into campgrounds and other areas populated by humans in search of food scraps.

Coyotes are great athletes, able to run incredibly fast and leap over 8-foot fences!

Visitors of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park may be lucky enough to hear one of these animals howling at night as they hunt for small prey alone or in packs. 

Coyotes, like white-tailed deer, are an important part of the Smoky Mountain ecosystem.

By preying upon small rodents and other animals, they help maintain healthy populations of these species.

Coyotes also provide food for other predators such as bobcats and foxes, and their droppings may provide important nutrients to the soil. 

As with any wild animal, it is important to keep a safe distance from coyotes and not to approach them.

If you encounter a coyote, it is best to make loud noises and wave your arms to scare it away.

7. Snakes 

Snakes may not be the first type of animal that comes to mind when you think of the Great Smoky Mountains, but they’re actually quite common in the area.

With 23 varieties found in the region, snakes are a diverse and fascinating part of the Smokies wildlife.

If you’re out exploring, you may come across some of these slithering creatures sunning themselves on rocks or hiding among leaves. 

While it might be tempting to get close for a better look, it’s important to remember that most snakes are harmless and prefer to keep their distance.

The two poisonous species found in the Smokies – Timber Rattlesnake and Copperhead – should be avoided at all costs!

To keep yourself safe, just watch from a respectful distance and enjoy observing these amazing animals in their natural habitat.

8. The North American River Otter

The North American River Otter is one of the most captivating animals you can find in the Smoky Mountains.

These playful creatures can often be seen frolicking around creeks and rivers, sliding down rocks and playing in the water. 

With their thick glossy fur, webbed feet and long tails, river otters are quite a sight to behold!

They’re also incredibly social animals who live in family units or small groups of up to 15 individuals.

As if that weren’t enough, these amazing mammals are also great swimmers – they have dense fur which helps them stay warm while they swim and dive underwater looking for food. 

So next time you’re out adventuring in the Smokies, keep your eyes open – you may be lucky enough to spot a North American River Otter making its way through the water!

9. Wild Boars

Wild boars are one of the most impressive animals you’ll find in the Smoky Mountains.

These hairy pigs have huge heads, short legs and can be dark gray, black or brown. They typically weigh between 110 and 200 pounds, but this varies greatly. 

Both males and females have tusks, although male tusks are much larger and protrude. 

Although they may look intimidating at first glance, wild boars are actually quite shy and timid animals.

They prefer to keep their distance from people, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever get too close to one during your visit to the Smokies.

However, if disturbed they will become aggressive so it’s best to admire them from a safe distance!

10. Bobcats

Bobcats are one of the most interesting animals to spot in the Smoky Mountains.

These wild cats can grow up to three feet long and weigh up to twenty pounds, though they’re usually much smaller. 

Bobcats have short fur that’s orange-brown on top with a white underside and black spots along their body.

They’re also nocturnal, so you probably won’t see them during your hikes.

But don’t worry, bobcats rarely attack humans and are actually quite shy around people; they usually prefer to keep their distance.

If you do get lucky enough to spot one, take a moment to admire its beauty from afar!


The Great Smoky Mountains are full of fascinating animals that you may not know about.

From coyotes and snakes to wild boars and bobcats, the region is home to a wide variety of creatures that make it an incredible place to explore. 

So next time you’re in the area, take some time to keep your eyes open – you never know what amazing animal you might spot!

Olivia Kepner