Native Plants and Animals in Pennsylvania

Raccoons are a common sight in Pennsylvania.
Raccoons are a common sight in Pennsylvania. (Image: racoon image by Xavier MARCHANT from

Pennsylvania is the 33rd-largest state in the country, covering 46,058 square miles, according to Most of Pennsylvania's wild areas are filled with deciduous forest where a wide range of animals and plants live and grow. The Appalachian Mountains cut through the eastern part of the state, while the Allegheny State Forest covers part of the northwestern portion.


A wide variety of mammals call Pennsylvania home. While you can find many common animals there, such as the raccoon, squirrel and white-tail deer, Pennsylvania is also home to some rare mammals. One of these is the fisher, a mustelid similar to the American marten. These rare weasel-like animals live in Pennsylvania's forests, eating small animals and sometimes mushrooms. Fishers weigh 3 to 12 pounds and are among the few animals that can successfully kill and eat a porcupine. While fishers are good at climbing trees, they usually spend most of their time on the ground.


According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, 21 snake species are native to the state. Only three of these snakes are venomous: the northern copperhead, eastern massasauga rattlesnake, and timber rattlesnake. Pennsylvania's venomous snakes differ from the nonvenomous ones in three ways, according to the commission. They have a pit between the eye and the nostril, they have a cat-like eyelid, and they have one row of scales under the tail. It's rare for a person to be bitten by a venomous snake in Pennsylvania, but if you are bitten, keep calm and seek medical assistance.


Pennsylvania is home to a plethora of native plants, from the mighty oak tree to the delicate Jacob's Ladder. There are also numerous wildflowers that give the state a glorious spring and summer. Among these are the black-eyed Susan, wild columbine and the blue violet. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the biggest threats to native plants are destruction of habitat and the introduction of invasive species, which also bring diseases and pests.

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