The Kansas state animal is the bison. The bison is a large, herbivorous mammal that once roamed the Great Plains in massive herds. Today, the bison is an important symbol of the American West.
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The American Bison
The American bison (Bison bison), once commonly known as the Buffalo, is an American icon. Its historical range once extended from Alaska to Mexico and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. The two subspecies are the Plains bison (Bison bison bison) and the Wood bison (B.b. athabascae). The American bison is the largest extant land animal in North America and Central America, exceeding in size both the American elk (Cervus canadensis) and the Alaskan moose (Alces alces). It is therefore sometimes referred to as a “beefalo”, though it only incidentally may produce fertile offspring with domestic cattle of either sex.
The Kansas state mammal
The American bison is the official state mammal of Kansas. The animal was adopted as the state mammal in 1955. The Kansas Legislature also designated the bison as an official symbol of the state in 2014.
The Kansas state reptile
Kansas is home to a wide variety of animals, from the adorable prairie dog to the graceful eagle. But did you know that the state also has an official reptile? The Kansas state reptile is the ornate box turtle (Terrapene ornata).
This small turtle is found throughout the state, and is easily recognizable thanks to its distinctive shell. The shell is usually a dark brown or black, with yellow and orange stripes running down the center. The ornate box turtle is a shy creature, and is seldom seen by humans. When it does come out of its shell, it is usually only for a brief period of time – just long enough to bask in the sun or look for food.
The Kansas state reptile was chosen by elementary school students in 1984. They were looking for an animal that was common in the state, and which would be a good representative of Kansas. The ornate box turtle fit those criteria perfectly, and so it was officially designated as the state reptile in 1985.
The Kansas state bird
The state bird of Kansas is the western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecteda). The meadowlark was adopted as the state bird of Kansas in 1937. It is a member of the blackbird family and is closely related to the oriole. The western meadowlark is about 8 to 9 inches in length and has a yellow breast with a black “V” on it. The back and wings are brownish-black, and the tail is black with white edges. The western meadowlark can be found in open grasslands across the western United States and Canada.
The Kansas state fish
The Kansas state fish is the channel catfish. The channel catfish is a member of the catfish family. Channel catfish are found in all parts of Kansas. They are most common in the eastern and central part of the state, but can be found in the western part of the state as well.
The Kansas state amphibian
The Kansas state amphibian is the American toad (Anaxyrus americanus). The toad was chosen as the state amphibian by the Kansas Legislature in 2014.