There has been a recent trend around America, where citizens are finding out that their state has an official state dog along with other animals that are native to the state. All over the world canine dogs are one of the most popular pets and there is often debate about which breeds are better than others. Some people dislike dogs or have traumatic experiences with them but for the most part, they are considered man's best friend.

While many people within the state of Indiana may have dogs as pets and may consider them their best friends, the state as a whole doesn't acknowledge them in the same way. Unlike Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois which have proposed or recently passed state dogs, Indiana is choosing to go another route. Instead of having a state dog that they celebrate the Hoosier state has three other animals that they consider more special than the rest.

Every state in the United States has a list of state things that they cherish for example, states may have a state beverage, fruit, plant, flag, song, and a slew of other things that are monikers of the state. Indiana like every other state has a state animal, but they are different than others as they decided to have 3 state animals rather than just one. The Nothern Cardinal, The Say's Firefly, and Mastodon are the 3 state animals for the Hoosier state.

The Northern Cardinal

The northern cardinal became the official state bird of Indiana in 1933. The beautiful Northern Cardinals are a common sight all over the state, all year round, living in thickets, woodlands, and even your backyard! If you want to attract cardinals, just put out a bird feeder with some tasty safflower or sunflower seeds.

Male birds are especially easy to spot, as they are decked out in eye-catching bright red feathers and striking jet-black masks. Female birds, on the other hand, rock a more understated style, with beautiful buffy brown or reddish olive coloring. They have gray masks on their faces, and their wings, tails, and crests are a rich, reddish color. Both male and female birds have an impressive crest of feathers on their heads, almost like a feathery mohawk.

Cardinals are very vocal birds and sing almost all year round. Their unique songs are a mix of warbles and whistles. Northern cardinals are rather good mimics as well, and can even copy the calls of other birds! These harmonious scarlet birds are also quite social. During the cold winter months, you can often spot them gathering in large flocks.

Say's Firefly

Say’s firefly became the official state insect of Indiana due to the efforts of a young grade-schooler, Kayla, from Cumberland Elementary School. Kayla and her classmates spoke before the Senate’s public policy committee, and in 2018 Say’s firefly became the official state insect of Indiana.

Although they are called fireflies, Say’s fireflies are a special type of beetle that utilizes a complex chemical reaction that makes them glow! They use this amber-orange bioluminescent light to attract mates at night. Male fireflies flash their lights in a series of rapid pulses, followed by a short pause. Female fireflies, on the other hand, flash their lights in one long pulse.



Mastodons were gigantic mammals that lived during the Ice Age and became the official state fossil of Indiana in 2022. They looked a lot like elephants but with their unique differences like their flat skulls and smaller ears, while also being a bit shorter than today’s modern elephants. They used their long and curved tusks to dig for food and fight against predators. Although mastodons had a very intimidating presence, these giant beasts were herbivores and only ate plants.

Mastodons once roamed all over the state of Indiana. Fossils of these ginormous creatures have been discovered in almost every county in the state! However, the most famous of Indiana’s mastodons is one affectionately known as “Fred”. You can see Fred’s skeleton on display at the Indiana State Museum today. The preserved skeleton is over 13,000 years old, measuring 25 feet long and 9 feet tall. Even just his skull weighs over 300 pounds!

Have you come across any of Indiana's state animals?

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We spoke with Wild Care Cape Cod Executive Director Stephanie Ellis about the dangers of many everyday yard items and how they can affect the wildlife we know and love. Here are some of the dangers your yard may present to animals and how you can reduce their risk.

Gallery Credit: Nancy Hall

Animals in Which Rabies is Most Commonly Found

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in North America rabies is most commonly found in bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and mongoose. It is also found in cats, cattle, and dogs. The CDC says that rabid bats have been found in every state except for Hawaii. Rabid mongoose have been found in Puerto Rico.

Rabies is easily transmitted from animals to other animals, including human beings. Human cases are rare in the United States, but deadly if not caught in time.

Gallery Credit: Kristine Bellino