THE LIST: Weirdest Animals Found in Alabama

(WHNT) — In Alabama, we have some truly strange creatures walking among us.

Whether they have strange names, strange behavior or resemble one of the monsters from the 1984 classic movie “Gremlins”, these animals have something a little different to offer.

News 19 has compiled a list of just a few of the strange animals that inhabit Alabama.


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Goshawks are a group of birds rather than just one.

Four species in this group, also under a more scientific name Order Caprimulgiformes and Family Caprimulgidae, are located in Alabama. These include the lesser nighthawk, the goshawk, the Chuck-will’s widow, and the eastern widow.

In the case of the Eastern Whip-poor-will, pictured above, the bird is found in the Tennessee Valley and mountain regions in the spring, summer, and fall. According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), eastern poor-will’s plumage is so soft that they make no sound in flight.

What makes them a special animal? Well… first of all, they’re called goats. According to Sibley’s Guide, the name comes from a 2,000-year-old superstition that says the birds, mostly active at night, would cause trouble for goats — and even drink their milk.

Alligator turtles

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Urban legend says that if you get bitten by an alligator snapping turtle, it won’t let you go until it hears thunder. It even earned the name “thunder turtle” among some Alabamians.

According to the ADCNR, the alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world. The average alligator snapping turtle can be up to 175 pounds and 15 to 26 inches tall at maturity.

Alligator tortoises are typically found throughout the state in Alabama, and some species are restricted to the Gulf of Mexico drainage. The creature can also be found in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

What makes them a special animal? They look like they belong in the Jurassic period rather than modern times. According to the Saint Louis Zoo, alligator snapping turtles are sometimes called the “dinosaurs of the turtle world” because of their dinosaur-like tails and primitive appearance.


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It would be almost impossible to mistake an armadillo for another animal.

According to, armadillos are covered in a hard, armored carapace with a gray-brown coloration and yellow to white scales. They weigh from 8 to 15 pounds and can grow up to 31 inches in length.

Armadillos became common in the southeastern United States in the late 19th century. They are now found throughout the South, even as far as Missouri and Colorado.

What makes them a special animal? Armadillos are more often seen as killers. According to, the creatures find themselves on the highway so much that they love eating the carcasses or dead flesh of other animals.

News 19 previously wrote about armadillos and why they’re so affected here.

Freshwater jellyfish

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Freshwater jellyfish are most commonly found in the “high-quality still waters of Alabama.” They are most often seen in late summer and autumn.

Freshwater jellies are tiny by marine jellyfish standards, with their jellyfish stage often less than an inch long. The polyp stage is even smaller, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

To see footage of freshwater jellyfish swimming, click here.

What makes them a special animal? Unlike other types of jellyfish, the stings of freshwater jellies are not strong enough for humans to feel.


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If you’ve ever lived in the country, sometimes even in a city, you’ve definitely heard a coyote howl at night.

Found throughout the state, coyotes are North American canines smaller than wolves, yet closely related. They were once called prairie wolves, brush wolves and even American jackals, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The ADCNR said their diet consists of livestock, eggs, birds and, oddly enough, watermelon.

What makes them a special animal? Once a coyote finds a mate, they are bonded forever and remain completely monogamous. According to, this fact remains true no matter how many other potential mates are in the area. They also co-raise their young.


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Nutria, rat, nutria and swamp beaver. No matter what you call these furry friends, the semi-aquatic rodent isn’t very common in Alabama, but if you see one, you might mistake it for something else.

ADCNR says nutria are “exotic.” They are usually dark brown with long coarse guard hairs and large incisors that can be chestnut brown in color.

The nutria comes from South America. They were first introduced to the Alabama ecosystem by travelers along the Gulf Coast in the 1930s and reached Mobile in 1948. The species can now be found “from the Mobile Delta throughout much of the Alabama and Tombigbee waterways.”

What makes them a special animal? Nutria’s mammary glands are on the sides of the back. This allows nutria pups to nurse even when their mother is swimming.


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Boaters and fishermen have absolutely come across this strange animal on the water.

While the moss may look like a giant amorphous blob… it’s not. It’s actually a colony of animals. According to, the collection of aquatic creatures is more commonly known as a “moss animal.”

The ADCNR says the bryozoans are small, sometimes just bigger than a basketball. The colony is divided into “rosettes” or 12-18 individual animals and can grow algae. Officials say it is unclear whether or not the relationship between the moss and algae is symbiotic.

What makes them a special animal? The bryophyte is almost entirely made up of water. The outside is relatively firm, but the inside is described as “gelatinous and slimy to the touch”.

Did we miss a weird animal you saw in Alabama? If so, send your animals to [email protected] to be featured in a future list!


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