Best East Texas State Parks

The Fauna of the Piney Woods

From water moccasins to woodpeckers, what to watch for—and what to watch out for—in East Texas.

By Roxanna Asgarian April 28, 2016 Published in the May 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Watermoccasin vsrmba

Water Moccasin

As the only semi-aquatic viper in the world, these highly venomous snakes love swampy, low-lying areas near rivers and lakes.

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Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

This native bird, whose habitat is threatened by logging, prefers pecking at pine trees for its meals of bugs, spiders and berries.

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American Alligator

Though common in the marshes, swamps, rivers and bayous of East Texas, alligators are most active from March through May. They mostly avoid humans, but still—don’t try to feed them.

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The blue catfish is the largest freshwater sport fish in Texas, growing up to 115 pounds. But it’s the smaller channel and flathead catfish that are more commonly caught here—and make excellent eats.

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Southern Short-Tailed Shrew

This weird little shrew measures between three and four inches, and eats all kinds of bugs. Its venomous saliva can kill mice but isn’t lethal to humans, although it is painful.

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Rafinesque Big-Eared Bat

This species is three to four inches in length, with rabbit-like ears about an inch long. It roosts in hollow trees or under bridges by day and feasts on mosquitoes by night.

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