North Carolina is a beautiful state, from the Appalachian mountains to the barrier islands known as the "Outer Banks." This varied landscape is part of what creates a wide variety of ecological conditions. The mountains host numerous forest types (even the nation's only eastern temperate rainforest), balds, bogs and fens; the hilly Piedmont holds hardwood and pine forests, sandhills and hemlock bluffs; the coastal plain and Outer Banks are the home of another spread of forest types, wetlands, natural lakes, Carolina bays and pocosins. Aquatic ecosystems range from the Atlantic ocean to sounds, streams, rivers, estuaries, reservoirs, and natural and artificial lakes.
All kinds of flora and fauna inhabit these places, including 52 species which are threatened or endangered. Aside from the state bird, here is a look at 10 of the state's most awesome animals. Feel free to suggest any other creatures for this completely unscientifically-created list. Since 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the North Carolina Wilderness Act, now is also a great time to explore North Carolina's wild places and find some of these animals.