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These Are the Most Dangerous Creatures in Arkansas

If you’re planning a trip to Arkansas, it’s worth learning about the dangerous creatures that live there. 

Some of these critters can turn your magical stay into a life-threatening situation. And a few of them are so small you might not see them coming. 

Today we’ll help you learn to identify these threats so you can enter the wilderness equipped to survive an encounter. 

Let’s dive in!

An alligator with it's mouth open as if to bite. It's one of the most dangerous creatures in Arkansas.
Alligators can run faster than you think

About Arkansas

Arkansas is known as a beautiful state with crystal-clear lakes and incredible geothermal waters. Hot Springs National Park draws millions of visitors each year. But the thick forests that cover over half the state are equally worth a trip. You can also explore the Ozark Mountains, whose gentle peaks offer a serene beauty for outdoor lovers. 

And you don’t have to spend your whole trip here outside. The state has a rich musical heritage, with some of the finest country, folk, and bluegrass artists calling the state home. You can also try your luck at the only active diamond mine in the US. You’ll even find home-style country cooking to fill your belly between adventures.

Perhaps one of the most well-known establishments to come out of the Land of Opportunity is Walmart. This megacorporation started in Bentonville and has since become one of the most successful companies globally. 

Former president Bill Clinton’s southern charm was refined in the state. The locals share his disposition, so don’t be surprised when you’re greeted with a smile wherever you go. 

Of course, Arkansas isn’t all smiles, especially if you happen upon some of the dangerous creatures that call the state home. 

What Are the Most Dangerous Creatures in Arkansas?

It’s no mystery why people call it the Natural State. Arkansas has beautiful wild spaces teeming with life, including some dangerous creatures. But these are the ones you should take note of. 


Alligators have been around since prehistoric times. But they’ve learned to adapt well to humans. In fact, most of the time, they prefer to avoid us. And while there’s no record of any unprovoked attacks in the state, you should steer clear.

You don’t want to make them angry. These animals can turn your Arkansas vacation into a nightmare in seconds. While they may look slow, they can easily outrun you if they decide to chase you down. And they’re even faster in the water.

These scary-looking animals live in the southern areas with lots of water. Alligators are most active at night. If you’re wandering around after dark, it’s best to have a flashlight so you don’t catch one by surprise.

If you dare: 7 Best Free Camping Spots in Arkansas.


When you think of scorpions, you may imagine them sheltering under rocks in an arid desert rather than in a state covered in lakes and rivers. So you may be surprised to discover that Arkansas is home to the striped bark scorpion, one of the scariest in the US. 

That’s right. These creatures don’t need desert conditions to thrive. They have powerful venom that can be deadly in rare instances. It also causes tissues around the sting to rot, sometimes leading to permanent organ damage. 

They grow two to three inches long and have two dark stripes running down their bodies. These dangerous creatures roam throughout the forests and grasslands of Arkansas, so be mindful of where you step. 

Venomous Spiders

Scorpions aren’t the only arachnids crawling around. You may encounter one of two potentially deadly spiders in the region. 

Black widows are noted for a distinct red, hourglass-shaped spot on their bodies. Their venom is 15 times more potent than a rattlesnake. Luckily, their small size limits the amount they can inject. Most people don’t need medical treatment after a bite, and the last reported fatality was from the 80s. 

Brown recluses have painful bites that can rot if left untreated. Luckily, they don’t wander around too often. They’re light brown with a dark, violin-shaped mark behind the eyes. You’ll usually only encounter them if you go poking around under rocks or piles of wood. You may also find them hiding in closets or old cardboard boxes. 

Life-threatening animals and insects can be anywhere: 7 Dangerous Creatures in Your House.


While Arkansas doesn’t have any grizzlies, they have a sizable population of black bears. These beasts can run over 30 miles per hour and climb trees in seconds. Don’t expect to come out of a fight on top if you make one mad. 

Luckily, these scary critters don’t want to mess with humans. If you make plenty of noise and avoid leaving food around, they’ll stay out of your way. No matter what, don’t approach them. If they feel you’re threatening their cubs, you may meet the mean end of their razor-sharp claws or teeth. 

Venomous Snakes

The most dangerous animals on this list might be the hardest to spot. These reptiles love to hide in tall grass and under rocks. And if you startle them, they won’t hesitate to strike. 

Arkansas has six venomous snakes, including copperheads, cottonmouths, and several rattlesnake species. They’re fast, agile creatures with potent toxins behind each bite. 

Remember that killing these critters is illegal unless they pose a direct threat. Do your best to avoid them so we can live and let live. 

A Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth Snake) in a swamp. It's one of the most dangerous creatures in Arkansas.
Cottonmouth snakes (aka water moccasins) are semi-aquatic

How To Avoid Dangerous Creatures in Arkansas

Just because Arkansas is home to some dangerous creatures doesn’t mean you have to cancel your trip. Attacks are rare, and most people survive them. But it’s not worth the gamble of going in unprepared. 

As long as you stick to trails and avoid wandering around after dark, you’ll avoid most of the critters on this list. And whatever you do, don’t approach wild animals, no matter how friendly they seem. You can call animal control or park rangers if you see something dangerous. After all, that’s why they’re there.

It’s best to pack your food in airtight containers and don’t leave trash lying around your campsite. When hiking, stay in a group and make plenty of noise along the trail to avoid surprising the wildlife. 

Make it easier to identify birds and animals while you’re in Arkansas with Arkansas Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Animals.

Is Arkansas Worth Visiting Despite its Dangerous Creatures?

The dangerous creatures in Arkansas are all part of the state’s charm. With so many wild spaces to explore, you’ll encounter all sorts of friendly critters. Stay aware and avoid the ones on this list if you want to make the most of your vacation. 

But don’t let these animals keep you away from the beautiful forests and relaxing hot springs that make this state worth a visit. By staying aware of your surroundings and giving them plenty of space, you should be just fine!

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