Texas is a vast expanse of land featuring some of the most diverse wildlife in the United States. The wide-open spaces and various different climates support a number of animals, making it the ideal location to establish ranches, wildlife preserves, hunting grounds or homes for exotic animals not native to the Lone Star State.
Our expert team at TexasLand has put together an overview of the exotic wildlife in Texas.
Texas Is Home to a Wide Variety of Exotics
Most exotic wildlife was introduced to the state by land owners. The exotic wildlife found in Texas appeals to different people for different reasons. Some simply enjoy the presence of such wildlife on their property, while others enjoy hunting. Owning an exotic game preserve gives you the chance to provide space for rare, sometimes endangered species to survive and thrive, even if you plan to gain extra income by letting hunters use the grounds.
So what species are available for prospective land buyers interested in Texas exotic wildlife? The list is surprisingly long, with well over 100 species named as recently as 2020. Most of the exotic species found in the state fall into three categories:
- Cervidae — deer, including the Axis, Fallow and Sika deer.
- Bovidae — cattle and antelope, including the Nilgai and Blackbuck antelopes, as well as the Aoudad sheep.
- Equidae — includes a myriad variety of wild horses and zebras native to Africa.
Various exotic fowl species, mostly flightless — including emu, ostrich, cassowary, and rhea — can also be found throughout the state.
Most Common Varieties
Relaxed regulations mean that you can find all kinds of exotic wildlife on Texas land, including big cats and other animals that people are likely more accustomed to seeing in zoos and safaris. However, given the popularity of hunting in the state, the species most likely to be found roaming Texas ranches are those that make good game. And while it’s difficult to get an exact number when it comes to tracking exotic populations in the state, the most common species over the past several decades have consistently been the following:
- Axis deer. Originally from India and Sri Lanka, this species has found a new home in Texas since being introduced in 1932. While they suffered from habitat loss in their native South Asia, the axis deer has thrived in Texas, with a current population of over 125,000.
- Nilgai antelope. The largest Asian antelope, Nilgai, are a perfect fit on the Texas rangelands, but don’t expect them to be too widespread as they hate the cold.
- Blackbuck antelope. Another Indian transplant, Blackbucks enjoy a diet of grass and mesquite, both of which are plentiful in Texas. This species is known for its eye-catching spiral horns.
- Aoudad sheep. The successor to the nearly extinct Bighorn sheep, Aoudad sheep — natives of North Africa — are sturdy creatures that require little water and are easy to breed. This species has been a major boon for many Texas ranchers.
- Fallow deer. This species is native to Turkey, possibly the Italian and Balkan peninsulas, and an European island called Rhodes. This species comes in three color phases — melanistic, white and fawn — with males weighing up to 200 pounds.
- Sika deer. This type of deer comes from Japan and southeast Asia, but is now found in many parts of the world. Depending on whether they originate in Japan or elsewhere, they can be almost black or as light as rich chestnut in color and have a dorsal stripe.
While exotics can thrive in a variety of locations, the highest concentration of exotic game is found in the south and west regions of the state. Expect to focus most of your search on those areas if looking for an ideal wildlife habitat.
Exotic Wildlife Considerations
Whatever kind of exotics you have your eye on, there are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind when thinking about exotic game hunting land.
- Adequate fencing. First things first, if you plan on having exotic wildlife, you need to make sure your property has adequate high fencing. If the property you are looking at has no fence, make this a priority before stocking your land. If it is already fenced, confirm that it is secure and properly maintained.
- Habitat considerations. Having the right property means more than just identifying the right climate for the game you want. Even if you plan to use the land for hunting, you need to take care of the animals there. Be sure that you have the right environment for your animals as well as plenty of viable food and water sources. If you have your eye on grazing animals, ensure that the property has not been over-grazed before releasing your game.
- Types of animals. With so many animals to choose from, you have plenty of options for where to purchase the wildlife you want. We recommend joining the Exotic Wildlife Association to start making connections with other ranchers and conservationists who may be looking to sell animals. This network will be doubly useful later down the road if you decide to start selling animals yourself.
- Extra credit for conservation. Speaking of selling from your own herd, an exotic wildlife preserve can be a great way to make some serious profit while you help these species thrive. If you’re able to breed animals and grow your herd, you should have plenty to sell to other ranchers, even after hunting and natural herd-thinning. Keeping an eye on population control may require some outside help, but if done right, your attempts at preventing overpopulation can provide a major economic boost.
TexasLand Helps You Find the Best Land For Exotic Wildlife
Owning an exotic wildlife ranch is a major undertaking, but it can also be a hugely rewarding experience. As an added bonus, so long as you have a hunting license, you don’t have to worry about specific hunting season requirements for exotic game, giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities.
No matter what aspect appeals most to you about owning land for exotic wildlife, our team is here to make the process as easy as possible. Not only do we know what makes for good wildlife property, we know our listings intimately. Each year we personally preview hundreds of properties so that our clients get the best fit. That means there’s no need to waste your time looking over a long list of potential properties that may not apply to you. Since we get to know you personally, we are uniquely qualified to match you with the land that fits your needs.
We’ll work with you to identify the right area, make sure your land is in compliance with Texas wildlife regulations, and use our comprehensive network of connections to help you develop the land so that it’s ready to hold and support the animals you want. Contact us to get started on your own exotic reserve today.