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Exploring Nature Science Education Resource:

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South Dakota Habitats, Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles

South Dakota

South Dakota is a grassland state with tallgrass, mixedgrass and shortgrass prairies once covering 95% of the state. The 5% that was not prairie was the Black Hills region. Grasslands are important habitats for wildlife providing food and shelter. South Dakota's landscape is dominated by grasslands (instead of forest) because of the low rainfall. In addition, historically, grazing wildlife (especially bison) and periodic wildfires kept the prairie open. The thick mat of prairie grass roots underground sprout quickly after a fire and even fertilized by the ashes. The state's tallgrass prairie is found in the eastern third of the state where the most rain falls. Here, many tall grass species thrive – big bluetstem, switchgrass, little bluestem, prairie cordgrass and many wildflowers. Mixedgrass prairie are found between the tall and shortgrass regions in the center of the state and make up most of the prairie region. Southwestern South Dakota is a drier region where shortgrass prairies are found. They are also found in South Dakota's Badlands. After the European settlers came to South Dakota, they tilled up the prairie for farmland. Much of the lost prairie was in the tallgrass region in the eastern part of the state which had more moisture for farming. Today, only 53% of the state is prairie. Much of the remaining prairie in South Dakota has been protected from development. In eastern North Dakota, the Nature Conservancy  has preserved more than 10,000 acres of tallgrass. Other grasslands in the state have become "National Grasslands" and are protected from development. The largest grassland National Park in the U.S. is the Badlands National Park with more than 100,000 acres of protected prairie.

South Dakota's Badlands are found west of the Missouri River on the Missouri Plateau. The Badlands is an area of eroded land by the Missouri River, wind and rainfall. The interesting terrain of the Badlands includes beautifully colored rock formations, canyons, buttes, outcroppings and sod tables (remnants of old prairie). The White River Badlands in southwestern South Dakota are about 100 miles long and are the most famous of the Badlands regions. The Badlands were protected from early farming and development because of the rugged terrain. Because a shallow sea once covered South Dakota (250-500 million years ago), fossils of sharks, fish and ancient plants are often uncovered in the eroded Badlands. Later (65 million years ago), the seas drained and left swamps and for forests. Then, about between 26-57 million years ago mammal fossils of the Eocene and Oligocene.

South Dakota has 1.7 million acres of forest found in three regions of the state. The largest forest is in the Black Hills and is made up of ponderosa pines, quaking aspen, spruce, paper birch, burr oak, etc. Another area of forest is found in the floodplains of the Missouri and other rivers. This forest is made up of elm and ash and is important for protecting river banks from erosion. There are also areas of oak forest lining the upper terraces and draws of the rivers and cottonwood forests along stream and river banks throughout the state.

Wetlands are very important habitats. They provide valuable wildlife habitat, stabilize shorelines and protect the land from storm surges and flooding. They act as filters to pollutants that run off the land from farms, towns and cities. Yet, for generations, people saw wetlands as dangerous and wasted land and set about filling them in and covering them over. It wasn't until late in the 1900s that people realized the vital importance of wetlands and set about protecting and reclaiming them. Historically, South Dakota once had about 2.7 million acres of wetlands. Today, only 62% remain. The most vital of South Dakota's wetlands are the prairie potholes left by the retreating glaciers. The prairie pothole region is northeast of the Missouri River and provides important habitat for migrating and breeding birds and other wildlife.

South Dakota

List of Mammals for this State

antelope (pronghorn)
bat (big brown)
bat (Brazilian free-tailed)
bat (fringed myotis)
bat (hoary)
bat (little brown myotis)
bat (long-eared myotis)
bat (long-legged myotis)
bat (northern myotis)
bat (red)
bat (silver-haired)
bat (Townsend's big-eared)
bat (western small-footed)
bear (black)
chipmunk (eastern)
chipmunk (least)
deer (mule)
deer (white-tailed)
ermine (short-tailed weasel)
fox (gray)
fox (red)
fox (swift)
ground squirrel (Franklin's)
ground squirrel (Richardson's)
ground squirrel (spotted)
ground squirrel (thirteen-lined)
jackrabbit (black-tailed)
jackrabbit (white-tailed)
kangaroo rat (Ord's)
lemming (southern bog)
lynx (Canadian)
marmot (yellow-bellied)
mole (eastern)
mountain goat
mouse (deer)
mouse (hispid pocket)
mouse (house)
mouse (meadow jumping)
mouse (northern grasshopper)
mouse (olive-backed pocket)
mouse (plains pocket)
mouse (silky pocket)
mouse (western harvest)
mouse (western jumping)
opossum (Virginia)
otter (river)
pocket gopher (northern)
pocket gopher (plains)
prairie dog (black-tailed)
rabbit (desert cottontail)
rabbit (eastern cottontail)
rabbit (Nuttall's cottontail)
rat (Norway)
shrew (Arctic)
shrew (dwarf)
shrew (least)
shrew (masked)
shrew (northern short-tailed)
shrew (pygmy)
skunk (eastern spotted)
skunk (striped)
squirrel (fox)
squirrel (northern flying)
squirrel (red)
vole (long-tailed)
vole (meadow)
vole (prairie)
vole (sagebrush) - rare
vole (southern red-backed)
weasel (least)
weasel (long-tailed)
weasel (short-tailed) or ermine
woodrat (bushy-tailed)

Mammals Now Extinct in North Dakota:
bear (grizzly)
ferret (black-footed)
mountain lion
mountain sheep
wolf (gray)

Coloring Mammals of this State

South Dakota

Labeling Mammals of this State

South Dakota

List of Amphibians & Reptiles for This State

bullfrog (American)
frog (Blanchard's cricket)
frog (chorus)
frog (northern leopard)
frog (plains leopard)
frog (wood)
salamander (tiger)
spadefoot (plains)
toad (American)
toad (Canadian)
toad (Great Plains)
toad (Woodhouse's)
treefrog (Cope's gray)
treefrog (eastern gray)

lizard (eastern short-horned)
lizard (northern earless)
lizard (northern prairie)
lizard (northern sagebrush)
lizard (prairie six-lined racerunner)
skink (many-lined)
skink (northern prairie)
snake (Black Hills redbelly)
snake (brown)
snake (bull)
snake (common garter)
snake (eastern hognose)
snake (eastern yellow-bellied racer)
snake (fox)
snake (lined)
snake (milk)
snake (Plains garter)
snake (Plains hognose)
snake (prairie rattlesnake)
snake (redbelly)
snake (ringneck)
snake (smooth green)
snake (wandering garter)
snake (water)
turtle (Blanding's) - rare
turtle (common snapping)
turtle (false map)
turtle (ornate box)
turtle (smooth softshell)
turtle (spiny softshell)
turtle (western painted)


Coloring Amphibians & Reptiles of this State

South Dakota

Labeling Amphibians & Reptiles of this State

South Dakota

Bird List for This State

ani (groove-billed)
avocet (American)
bittern (American)
bittern (least)
blackbird (Brewer's)
blackbird (red-winged)
blackbird (rusty)
blackbird (yellow-headed)
bluebird (eastern)
bluebird (mountain)
bluebird (western)
bobwhite (northern) - introduced
bunting (indigo)
bunting (lark)
bunting (Lazuli)
bunting (snow)
caracara (crested)
cardinal (northern)
catbird (gray)
chat (yellow-breasted)
chickadee (black-capped)
chickadee (boreal)
chickadee (mountain)
coot (American)
cormorant (double-crested)
cormorant (Neotropical)
cowbird (brown-headed)
crane (sandhill)
crane (whooping)
creeper (brown)
crossbill (red)
crossbill (white-winged)
crow (American)
cuckoo (black-billed)
cuckoo (yellow-billed)
dipper (American)
dove (Eurasian collared)
dove (common ground)
dove (Inca)
dove (mourning)
dove (rock)
dove (white-winged)
dowitcher (long-billed)
dowitcher (short-billed)
duck (American black) - introduced
duck (American wigeon)
duck (Barrow's goldeneye)
duck (black scoter)
duck (blue-winged teal)
duck (bufflehead)
duck (canvasback)
duck (cinnamon teal)
duck (common goldeneye)
duck (common teal)
duck (gadwall)
duck (greater scaup)
duck (harlequin)
duck (lesser scaup)
duck (mallard)
duck (northern pintail)
duck (northern shoveler)
duck (redhead)
duck (ring-necked)
duck (ruddy)
duck (surf scoter)
duck (white-winged scoter)
duck (wood)
eagle (bald)
eagle (golden)
egret (cattle)
egret (great)
egret (snowy)
falcon (gyrfalcon)
falcon (peregrine)
falcon (prairie)
finch (Cassin's)
finch (gray-crowned rosy)
finch (house)
finch (purple)
flicker (northern)
flycatcher (dusky)
flycatcher (Cordilleran)
flycatcher (great-crested)
flycatcher (least)
flycatcher (olive-sided)
flycatcher (scissor-tailed)
flycatcher (vermilion)
flycatcher (willow)
flycatcher (yellow-bellied)
gallinule (purple)
gnatcatcher (blue-gray)
godwit (Hudsonian)
godwit (marbled)
goldfinch (American)
goldfinch (lesser)
goose (Canada)
goose (greater white-fronted)
goose (Ross's)
goose (snow)
grackle (common)
grackle (great-tailed)
grebe (black-necked)
grebe (Clark's)
grebe (eared)
grebe (horned)
grebe (pied-billed)
grebe (red-necked)
grebe (western)
grosbeak (black-headed)
grosbeak (blue)
goose (Brant)
goose (cackling)
grosbeak (evening)
grosbeak (pine)
grosbeak (rose-breasted)
grouse (ruffed)
grouse (sharp-tailed)
gull (Bonaparte's)
gull (California)
gull (Franklin's)
gull (glaucous)
gull (glaucous-winged)
gull (herring)
gull (Iceland)
gull (laughing)
gull (lesser black-backed)
gull (little)
gull (mew)
gull (ring-billed)
gull (Sabine's)
gull (Thayer's)
harrier (northern)
hawk (broad-winged)
hawk (Cooper's)
hawk (ferruginous)
hawk (northern goshawk)
hawk (red-shouldered)
hawk (red-tailed)
hawk (rough-legged)
hawk (sharp-shinned)
hawk (Swainson's)
heron (black-crowned night)
heron (great blue)
heron (little blue)
heron (green)
heron (tricolored)
heron (yellow-crowned night)
hummingbird (Anna's)
hummingbird (broad-tailed)
hummingbird (calliope)
hummingbird (Costa's)
hummingbird (magnificent)
hummingbird (ruby-throated)
hummingbird (rufous)
ibis (glossy)
ibis (white)
ibis (white-faced)
jaeger (long-tailed)
jaeger (parasitic)
jaeger (pomarine)
jay (blue)
jay (gray)
jay (pinyon)
junco (dark-eyed)
kestrel (American)
kingbird (eastern)
kingfisher (belted)
kinglet (golden-crowned)
kinglet (ruby-crowned)
kite (Mississippi)
kite (swallow-tailed)
kite (white-tailed)
kittiwake (black-legged)
lark (horned)
longspur (chestnut-collared)
longspur (Lapland)
longspur (McCown's)
longspur (Smith's)
loon (common)
loon (Pacific)
loon (red throated)
loon (yellow-billed)
magpie (black-billed)
marten (purple)
marten (sand)
meadowlark (eastern)
meadowlark (western)
merganser (common)
merganser (hooded)
merganser (red-breasted)
mockingbird (northern)
moorhen (common)
murrelet (Ancient)
nighthawk (common)
nutcracker (Clark's)
nuthatch (pygmy)
nuthatch (red-breasted)
nuthatch (white-breasted)
oriole (Baltimore)
oriole (Bullock's)
oriole (orchard)
owl (barn)
owl (barred)
owl (boreal)
owl (burrowing)
owl (eastern screech)
owl (flammulated)
owl (great gray)
owl (great horned)
owl (long-eared)
owl (northern hawk)
owl (northern saw-whet)
owl (short-eared)
owl (snowy)
partridge (chukar)
partridge (gray)
pelican (American white)
pelican (brown)
phalarope (red)
phalarope (Wilson's)
pheasant (common)
pheasant (ring-necked)
phoebe (eastern)
phoebe (Say's)
pigeon (band-tailed)
pine siskin
pipit (American)
pipit (Sprague's)
plover (American golden)
plover (black-bellied)
plover (mountain)
plover (piping)
plover (semipalmated)
plover (snowy)
poorwill (common)
prairie-chicken (greater)
rail (black)
rail (king)
rail (Virginia)
rail (yellow)
red knot
redpoll (common)
redstart (American)
robin (American)
sandpiper (Baird's)
sandpiper (least)
sandpiper (pectoral)
sandpiper (semipalmated)
sandpiper (solitary)
sandpiper (spotted)
sandpiper (stilt)
sandpiper (upland)
sandpiper (western)
sandpiper (white-rumped)
shrike (loggerhead)
shrike (northern)
snipe (common)
snipe (Wilson's)
solitaire (Townsend's)
sparrow (American tree)
sparrow (Baird's)
sparrow (Brewer's)
sparrow (Cassin's)
sparrow (chipping)
sparrow (clay-colored)
sparrow (field)
sparrow (fox)
sparrow (golden-crowned)
sparrow (grasshopper)
sparrow (Harris's)
sparrow (Henslow's)
sparrow (house)
sparrow (lark)
sparrow (LeConte's)
sparrow (Lincoln's)
sparrow (Nelson's)
sparrow (sage)
sparrow (Savannah)
sparrow (song)
sparrow (swamp)
sparrow (vesper)
sparrow (white-crowned)
sparrow (white-throated)
starling (European)
stilt (black-necked)
stork (wood)
swallow (barn)
swallow (cliff)
swallow (north rough-winged)
swallow (tree)
swallow (violet-green)
swan (mute)
swan (trumpeter)
swan (tundra)
swift (chimney)
swift (white-throated)
tanager (scarlet)
tanager (summer)
tanager (western)
tern (Arctic)
tern (black)
tern (Caspian)
tern (common)
tern (Forster's)
tern (least)
thrasher (brown)
thrasher (curve-billed)
thrasher (sage)
towhee (eastern)
towhee (green-tailed)
towhee (spotted)
thrasher (brown)
thrush (gray-cheeked)
thrush (Swainson's)
thrush (varied)
thrush (wood)
titmouse (tufted)
turkey (wild)
turnstone (ruddy)
vireo (Bell's)
vireo (blue-headed)
vireo (eastern warbling)
vireo (Philadelphia)
vireo (plumbeous)
vireo (red-eyed)
vireo (white-eyed)
vireo (yellow-throated)
vulture (black)
vulture (turkey)
warbler (bay-breasted)
warbler (black and white)
warbler (Blackburnian)
warbler (blackpoll)
warbler (black-throated blue)
warbler (black-throated gray)
warbler (black-throated green)
warbler (blue-winged)
warbler (Canada)
warbler (Cape May)
warbler (cerulean)
warbler (chestnut-sided)
warbler (Connecticut)
warbler (golden-winged)
warbler (hooded)
warbler (Kentucky)
warbler (MacGillivray's)
warbler (magnolia)
warbler (mourning)
warbler (Nashville)
warbler (orange-crowned)
warbler (palm)
warbler (pine)
warbler (prothonotary)
warbler (Tennessee)
warbler (Townsend's)
warbler (Wilson's)
warbler (worm-eating)
warbler (yellow)
warbler (yellow-rumped)
waterthrush (Louisiana)
waterthrush (northern)
wood-pewee (eastern)
wood-pewee (western)
waxwing (Bohemian)
waxwing (cedar)
woodcock (American)
woodpecker (black-backed)
woodpecker (downy)
woodpecker (hairy)
woodpecker (Lewis's)
woodpecker (pileated)
woodpecker (red-bellied)
woodpecker (red-headed)
woodpecker (red-naped sapsucker)
woodpecker (three-toed)
woodpecker (yellow-bellied sapsucker)
wood-pewee (eastern)
wood-pewee (western)
wren (canyon)
wren (Carolina)
wren (house)
wren (marsh)
wren (rock)
wren (sedge)
wren (winter)
yellowlegs (greater)
yellowlegs (lesser)
yellowthroat (common)

Coloring Birds of this State

South Dakota

Labeling Birds of this State

South Dakota

State Symbols of this State

South Dakota

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Amsel, Sheri. "South Dakota Habitats, Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2019. September 19, 2019
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.

cheetah, tiger, panda, fox, bear, cougar