Officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States.
With a total area of 42,774.2 square miles (110,784.7 km2), the state is the 35th-largest in the country.
Despite being relatively sizeable, Virginia’s natural environment is diverse.
Forests cover more than half of the state, at least 62%, while waters cover around 7%.
The rest of the state divides into wetlands and other smaller natural habitats.
A state where forests cover most of its land is bound to have intriguing wildlife that takes these forests and others regions as their habitats.
Virginia splits into five ecological regions- the coastline, wetlands, lowlands, hills, and mountains.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has compiled a list of more than 100 mammal species, but this only scratches the surface of the state’s biodiversity.
The state is home to over 200 bird species and other native species.
While many of these animals thrive in their natural habitat, some face endangerment threats and are close to extinction.
Here are a few endangered species in Virginia:
5. Roanoke Logperch
The Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) is a small freshwater fish found in the Roanoke River watershed in Virginia, USA.
This fish is a member of the family Percidae, which includes darters and perches.
However, the Endangered Species Act lists the species as “endangered” due to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation.
The Roanoke logperch was first described in 1985 and was immediately recognized as a rare and unique species.
This species is small, growing to about six inches, and has a flattened body.
It typically has a mottled brown coloration with dark, round, and vertically elongated patches on the flank.
Its fins are a mixture of black, brown, and white, and it prefers clear, fast-flowing streams or rivers with rocky bottoms, where it feeds on small invertebrates.
Initially found in the Roanoke River in Virginia, this fish faces several threats, of which habitat loss and degradation are top of the list.
The Roanoke logperch is also vulnerable to sedimentation, which can clog its gills and reduce food availability.
In addition, the species is sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality, which can be affected by climate change and pollution.
4. Virginia Fringed Mountain Snail
The Virginia fringed mountain snail, also called the Virginia coil or Polygyriscus, is a snail species that inhabits the high-elevation forests of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia.
Scientific name Polygyriscus virginianus, this snail belongs to the family Polygyridae.
The Virginia fringed mountain snail is endemic to the Appalachian Mountains, where it inhabits moist, shaded areas such as ravines, rocky outcrops, etc.
A narrow, elongated shell with a keeled ridge on the spire and a fringe of hair-like projections on the outer edge of the shell aperture characterizes this species.
The shell color ranges from light brown to dark brown with irregular bands or streaks.
Because of their preferred habitats, these snails live well above the ground.
Despite being so high up, they face several threats.
The primary threat faced by the Virginia fringed mountain snail is environmental factors, especially climate change, which affects the species’ overall survival.
The species is also vulnerable to predation from mammals, birds, and other animals.
To protect them, many of their habitats are designated as protected areas, such as national forests and wilderness areas.
3. Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel
Scientifically called Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus, the Virginia northern flying squirrel is a species native to the eastern part of North America, including Virginia.
This species inhabits mature and deciduous forests where they rely on trees for food, shelter, and transportation.
They are primarily nocturnal, sleeping most of their days and only coming out to forage at night.
The Virginia northern flying squirrel is known for its unique ability to glide from tree to tree, which earned it the name “flying squirrel.” It glides using a patagium created from a fold of skin.
Apart from this extra flesh it uses to aviate, this species is typically undersized, only weighing as little as eight ounces.
The Virginia northern flying squirrel is considered a threatened species in Virginia due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
The loss of mature forests due to logging, urbanization, and agriculture affects this species.
The species is protected under the Endangered Species Act, and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is working with other organizations and landowners to create corridors connecting the fragmented habitats of the squirrels.
2. Indiana Bat
The Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) is a small, insectivorous bat in the eastern United States.
In Virginia, the Indiana bat is listed as endangered and is subject to federal and state protection measures.
The largest populations are found in the central and southwestern portions of the state, including areas like the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
Like many other bats, the Indiana bat is small, weighing between 0.16 and 0.34 ounces.
This bat’s colors range between black, chestnut, or gray.
Although commonly mistaken for the little brown bat, this species is easily distinguished by its pink lips, a keel on its calcar, and its feet size.
Before its decline, the Indiana bat was found throughout Virginia, including the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont region.
One of the primary threats to the Indiana bat in Virginia is habitat loss and degradation.
As forests are cleared for development and logging, the Indiana bat’s habitat becomes increasingly fragmented and degraded, making it more difficult for individuals to find suitable roosting and foraging sites.
Another significant threat to the Indiana bat in Virginia is the fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.
This disease, which is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has had a devastating impact on bat populations throughout the eastern United States.
1. Virginia Big-Eared Bat
The Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) is a subspecies of the Townsend’s big-eared bat found in Virginia.
This species is primarily found in abandoned mines in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia in groups of up to 200 individuals.
However, several bodies, including the IUCN, lists it as endangered.
The Virginia big-eared bat is a medium-sized bat with a wingspan of 10-12 inches and a body length of 3-4 inches.
Its fur ranges between gray and brown, and it has large, dark eyes well-adapted for nocturnal flight and foraging.
As its name implies, its most striking feature are its ears, which are significantly large and pointed.
The species uses its ears to locate and identify prey through echolocation.
The primary threats to the Virginia big-eared bat are habitat loss and fragmentation, disturbance during hibernation, and the spread of white-nose syndrome.
Disturbance during hibernation can disrupt the bat’s torpor, causing them to burn through their fat reserves too quickly and potentially leading to death.
The white-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that has devastated bat populations in the eastern United States, and the Virginia big-eared bat is particularly vulnerable to this disease.