From small water-dwelling creatures, such as otters and beavers, to large land animals, such as bobcats and coyotes, the Tennessee countryside is scattered with a wide variety of mammals. Bats, bears and many other mammalian creatures have found a home in this southern state.
Both gray and red foxes, along with coyotes, make their home within Tennessee's borders. The largest mammal is the American black bear, which can weigh up to 600 pounds (270 kg) and run as fast as 35 mph (56 kph). Among large mammals, one of the only native non-carnivorous creatures is the white-tailed deer. Though its population dropped dramatically in the early 20th century due to hunting, the deer has since bounced back.
Medium-sized mammals abound in Tennessee, and not only on land. Water mammals including otter, muskrats and beavers can be found in the state. Tennessee is also home to the swamp rabbit, which is often found near water as well. In addition to several other rabbit species, medium mammals include several squirrel and weasel species. The nine-banded armadillo can also be found in Tennessee. The only armadillo species in the United States, they can hold their breath for up to six minutes.
Shrews are among the most common small mammals found in Tennessee. These long-snouted creatures can weigh as little as 0.13 ounces, as is the case with the pygmy shrew. Tennessee is also home to a variety of mice and rats, including the marsh rice rats, which will dive for cover underwater to escape pursuit. A broad range of vole species also live in Tennessee, such as the rock, prairie and woodland voles. Tennesse's sole lemming is the southern bog lemming; these are mostly nocturnal animals, though they can also be occasionally spotted during the day.
Tennessee also has many species of bats. There are six species of mouse-eared bats, including the little brown bat and the Southeastern bat. There are also two endangered species of bats that can be found in Tennessee: the gray bat, which has been on the endangered list since 1976, and the Indiana Bat, which has been listed since 1967. Perhaps the most unusual bat is the Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat, which has large, rabbit-like ears, which they curl back during hibernation.