LIST: The strangest animals found in Alabama

(WHNT) — There are some truly strange creatures walking among us in Alabama.

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

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News 19 compiled a list of just a few strange animals inhabiting Alabama.


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Goatsuckers are more of a group of birds, rather than just one singular one.

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Four species in that group, also going by the more scientific name Order Caprimulgiformes and Family Caprimulgidae, are found in Alabama. Those include lesser nighthawks, the common nighthawk, Chuck-will’s-widow, and the Eastern Whip-poor-will.

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

What makes them a strange animal? Well… for one, they’re called goatsuckers. According to Sibley’s Guide, the name comes from 2,000 years of superstition that states the birds, mostly active at night, would cause trouble with goats — and even drink their milk.

Alligator snapping turtles

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It’s an urban legend that if an alligator-snapping turtle bites you, it will not let go until it hears thunder. It even earned the name “thunder turtle” among some Alabamians.

According to 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 as an adult.

Alligator-snapping turtles are typically found statewide in Alabama with some species confined to drainages in the Gulf of Mexico. The creatures can also be found in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

What makes them a strange 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 “dinosaur of the turtle world” because of their dino-like tails and primitive appearance.


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It would be almost impossible to confuse an armadillo with any other animal.

According to, armadillos are covered in a hard, armored shell with a grayish-brown coloring and yellow to white scales. They range from 8 to 15 pounds and can grow up to 31 inches long.

Armadillos became common in the southeastern United States in the late 1800s. They’re now found throughout the South, even up to Missouri and Colorado.

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What makes them a strange animal? Armadillos are seen more often than not as roadkill. According to, the creatures find themselves on the highway so much because they love to eat carrion, or the dead flesh of other animals.

News 19 previously wrote about armadillos and why they find themselves hit so much here.

Freshwater jellyfish

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Freshwater jellyfish are found most often in “high-quality static waters of Alabama.” They’re seen most often in late summer and fall.

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

To see footage of a freshwater jellyfish swimming, click here.

What makes them a strange animal? Unlike other jellyfish species, the freshwater jellies’ stings aren’t strong enough to be felt by humans.


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

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

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

What makes them a strange animal? Once a coyote finds a mate, they’re bonded forever and stay completely monogamous. According to, that fact stays true no matter how many other potential mates are in the area. They also co-parent their young pups.


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

ADCNR says coypu are “exotic.” They are typically dark brown with long coarse guard hairs and large incisors that can be chestnut brown-colored.

The coypu is native to South America. They were first introduced to Alabama’s ecosystem by travelers along the Gulf Coast in the 1930s and made their way to Mobile by 1948. Now, the species can be found “from the Mobile Delta throughout much of the Alabama and Tombigbee Waterways.”

What makes them a strange animal? The coypu’s mammary glands are on the sides of their back. This allows young coypu to nurse even when their mother is swimming.


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

While a bryozoan might look like a giant, amorphous blob… it isn’t. It’s actually a colony of animals. According to, the collection of water creatures are more commonly known as a “moss animal.”

ADCNR says bryozoans are small, sometimes only larger than a basketball. The colony is divided into “rosettes” or 12-18 individual animals, and could have algae growing in it. Officials say it’s unclear whether or not the relationship between the bryozoan and algae is symbiotic.

What makes them a strange animal? A bryozoan is almost completely made of water. The outside is relatively firm, but the inside is described as “gelatinous and slimy to the touch.”

Did we miss a strange animal you’ve seen in Alabama? If so, submit your animals to [email protected] to be featured in a future list!

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