What Kind of Animals Live in New Mexico?

New Mexican deserts provide homes for many species.
New Mexican deserts provide homes for many species. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

New Mexico is rich in biodiversity, ranked fourth-highest in number of native species by NatureServe. New Mexico is dry, with a relatively low variety of amphibian and freshwater species. However, this dry environment provides a suitable home for a range of spiders, other arachnids, and insects.


New Mexico has a variety of animals native to the state. Mammal species include the Canada lynx, Gunninson's prairie dog, black-footed ferret, lesser long-nosed bat, Mexican long-nosed bat, desert pocket gopher, penasco chipmunk, swift fox, yellow-nosed cotton rat, and gray wolf. The jaguar, which is the largest native American cat, was thought to be gone from the Southwest until it was spotted in New Mexico in 1996.


Among fish, New Mexico has the headwater chub, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the roundtail chub, the Gila chub, the Zuni bluehead zucker, the Gila topminnow, the Rio Grande silvery minnow, the Chihuahua chub, the spikedace, the White Sands pupfish, the gray redhorse, and the Sonora sucker. The loach minnow also lives in New Mexico. Loach minnows lay anywhere from five to 250 eggs under a flattened rock.


Amphibian species native to New Mexico include the Jemez Mountains salamander, the Chiricahua leopard frog, the boreal toad, the lowland leopard frog, and the Sacramento Mountain salamander. New Mexico's native reptiles include the Mexican gartner snake, sand dune lizard, rattlesnake, gray-checkered whiptail, and narrowhead gartner snake. The New Mexico ridgenose rattlesnake, thought endangered, continues to make its home in the deserts of New Mexico.


Many bird species are native to New Mexico, including the lesser prairie-chicken, the sprague's pipit, the yellowed-billed cuckoo, the least tern, the northern aplomado falcon, the southwestern willow flycatcher, the whooping crane, the mountain plover, the Mexican spotted owl, the American peregrine falcon, the arctic peregrine falcon, and the whiskered screech owl. The western burrowing owl's presence in New Mexico has become increasingly faint, and it is now considered a species of concern.


There are many species in New Mexico's invertebrate group, both anthropod and mollusk. Arthropods include Noel's amphipod, animas minute moss beetle, Anthony blister beetle, the bonita diving beetle, the desert viceroy butterfly, the limestone tiger beetle, the New Mexico silverspot butterfly, and the regal silverspot butterfly. The Socorro isopod is an aquatic isopod distinct from its land relatives; it survives only in the remains of one thermal spa in New Mexico. New Mexican mollusks include the chupadera springsnail, the Gila springsnail, the Texas hornshell, the Toltecus chihuanus millipede, the Dona Ana talussnail, the pecos springsnail, and the Sangre de Cristo peaclam.

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