We often overlook the amazing animals that inhabit the world’s lakes. Whether cold or warm, deep or shallow, the variety of animals found in lakes worldwide is incredible.
In this blog post, we’ll explore animals that can be found living in lakes, from the large and impressive to the small and fascinating.
Read on to learn more about these incredible creatures and get inspired to explore the aquatic fauna of your local lake!
Have you ever wondered what kind of animals inhabits our lakes? From tiny invertebrates to large mammals, many creatures call lakes home.
This blog post will look at fascinating lake-dwelling animals you need to know.
From the ever-popular otter to the majestic sturgeon, you’ll learn all about the various critters that live in our lakes.
So let’s dive right in and explore the wonderful world of animals found in lakes!
Minnows are small freshwater fish that can be found in many lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers.
They are some of the most numerous animals found in lakes, and their tiny size makes them a favorite food for predators.
Minnows are typically silver and feature black markings on their backs. They feed on microscopic organisms, insects, and plants.
Bass is the most common freshwater game fish in the U.S. and one of the most popular targets for anglers.
Bass live in lakes, rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water throughout the country and can be found in nearly every state.
They typically range from 6 to 20 inches long and come in various colors, including brown, green, yellow, and black.
Bass have large mouths and are known for their agility and speed when swimming, and they are one of the animals found in lakes. They feed on small insects, shrimp, and other aquatic animals.
Catfish are one of the most common animals found in lakes. They come in various shapes and sizes, from the small and slender madtoms to the large flathead catfish that can reach up to 40 pounds!
Catfish have large eyes and barbels (whisker-like structures) on their mouths to help them find food in the murky depths of a lake.
These fish feed on various organisms such as plants, insects, worms, and small fish. Catfish can be a great addition to your lake, as they help to control aquatic plant and algae growth.
4. Redear Sunfish
The Redear Sunfish is a fish species native to lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams across North America.
They are silvery green with a red band extending from the snout to the operculum, which is located near the gills.
They typically feed on insects, zooplankton, crayfish, and mollusks. Redear Sunfish can reach up to 12 inches long and live for up to 8 years in the wild.
They are important animals found in lakes for recreational anglers due to their large size and good taste.
5. Painted Turtle
Painted turtles are one of the most recognizable species of freshwater turtles. Its colorful yellow, red, and black markings stand out among other lake-dwelling animals.
They are found in North American ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving rivers.
Moreso, Painted turtles prefer shallow water with abundant vegetation and basking spots, where they can find their preferred diet of aquatic plants and insects.
They are excellent animals found in lakes, capable of diving for up to 30 minutes in search of food. They can also hibernate in the mud during the cold winter months.
6. Water Snake
The water snake is a popular sight in many of the animals found in lakes.
This type of snake is found in all types of water habitats and can range from two to five feet long.
They are known for their sleek, serpentine bodies, typically dark brown or black. Their diets consist mostly of fish, amphibians, and small mammals such as mice and voles.
Water snakes are non-venomous and can be safely handled by humans if necessary.
They are an important part of the ecosystem, helping to control the populations of other aquatic creatures while also serving as a food source for larger predators like hawks and owls.
Alligators are large aquatic reptiles that belong to the Crocodylia family. They can be found in the southeastern United States rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes.
Alligators have powerful tails and long snouts with sharp teeth, making them well-suited to their wetland habitats. They can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh over 1000 pounds.
Alligators feed on small animals such as fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, birds, and carrion. They also consume vegetation like aquatic plants.
Alligators are primarily solitary animals found in lakes and active during the day. During the night, they rest in the water or on land.
Alligators are an important part of the ecosystem, as they help maintain a balance in the food chain by controlling populations of smaller aquatic animals and vegetation growth.
They also serve as indicators of a healthy environment; when alligators are present in an area, it is a sign that the water and air quality is good.
Crocodiles are large aquatic animals found in lakes, rivers, and wetlands worldwide. They are predators, feeding on fish, birds, small mammals, and sometimes other crocodiles.
There are several crocodile species, all of which have long, powerful tails, armored scales, and powerful jaws lined with sharp teeth.
Crocodiles can be up to 20 feet long and weigh over 1,500 pounds. They can stay submerged underwater for up to an hour while they wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.
Beetles are a common sight in many lakes and ponds. They can range from as small as a speck of dust to larger than your hand.
Some beetles eat aquatic plants, while others feed on small insects or other beetles.
While their presence might not be particularly impressive, these fascinating creatures play an important role in the lake’s ecosystem.
Dragonflies are amazing and graceful insects that can often be seen buzzing around lakes.
These insects have four large transparent wings, big multifaceted eyes, and long slender bodies.
Dragonflies typically feed on small flying insects, such as mosquitoes, midges, and mayflies, making them beneficial predators in your lake.
They are also adept fliers and can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour! Dragonflies are some of the most beautiful and fascinating animals found in lakes.
11. Giant Water Bug
Giant Water Bug is a type of animal found in lakes. They can reach up to two inches long and have large pincers on their heads.
These insects feed mainly on other aquatic insects but also eat small fish, tadpoles, and frogs. They are great hunters, using their pincers to capture their prey.
Giant Water Bugs can be found around the edges of lake shores and vegetation.
12. Water Strider
Water Striders are one of the most commonly seen lake-dwelling animals. They’re aquatic insects with long, thin legs capable of “walking” on top of the water’s surface.
Water Striders use the tiny hairs on their legs to sense vibrations in the water, allowing them to detect predators and prey.
They can stay afloat thanks to their hydrophobic bodies, meaning they repel water and don’t sink.
These insects typically feed on small aquatic creatures such as mosquito larvae and midges.
Water Striders can be found in fresh and saltwater lakes but prefer slower-moving waters with plenty of vegetation.
Mosquitoes are small, flying insects that are notorious for their annoying buzz and itchy bites.
However, they are also an important part of many lake ecosystems. In the summer months, female mosquitoes lay eggs in shallow pools of standing water such as lakes and ponds.
These eggs quickly hatch, and the larvae feed on aquatic animals found in lakes.
Adult mosquitoes feed on nectar and other sources of sugar,1 but they also bite animals and people to obtain the blood they need to develop their eggs.
Mosquitoes play an important role in lake ecosystems as food for other animals such as birds and fish, and they also help to control populations of other insects such as midges.
Mayflies are small aquatic animals found in lakes, rivers, and streams. They have delicate, transparent wings and two or three long tails.
Their lifespan is quite short, usually just a few days, during which they feed on algae and plant matter. They reproduce by laying eggs in the water, hatching them into larvae.
Fish often eats the larvae, while the adult mayflies are used as food for birds and other predators.
Mayflies are important to the ecology of lakes, rivers, and streams as they provide an important food source for larger animals.
The bluegill is a small freshwater animal found in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. It has an olive green back and sides with a yellowish belly.
The bluegill typically grows up to 8 inches long and can live up to 10 years. It feeds on insects, crustaceans, worms, and other small aquatic organisms.
Bluegills are common prey for larger fish and some water birds, such as herons and egrets. They are also popular among anglers as they are often caught for sport.
Walleye are a popular species of freshwater fish commonly found in lakes and rivers.
These fish are renowned for their delicious flavor and have been enjoyed by anglers for generations.
Walleye have an olive-brown coloration with light yellowish spots and typically grow up to about 30 inches in length.
They are known to feed on smaller fish, crayfish, and insects but can also eat larger prey like ducklings and frogs.
While these fish do not usually inhabit shallow water, they stay close to the surface when temperatures are warm.
Crappies are freshwater animals found in lakes and rivers. They have an elongated body with two distinct dorsal fins.
Crappies can vary in color from olive green to black or silver, with dark spots across their body. They feed on smaller fish, worms, and other aquatic life.
Crappies tend to live in schools and can be caught using small jigs, artificial lures, and natural bait.
Salmon are a type of fish found in lakes and rivers, especially those in the Northern Hemisphere.
These colorful fish are known for their long spawning migrations, making them a popular catch for anglers.
Salmon have adapted to many different freshwater habitats over the years and can be seen swimming through streams and even small lakes.
They feed on insects, crustaceans, and other aquatic life, making them an important part of the food chain.
Trout is a type of freshwater fish that can be found in lakes and streams across the world.
Their streamlined bodies and colorful markings make them interesting and visually appealing fish. Trout are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals.
They usually feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates like insects, crustaceans, and mollusks.
Many types of trout, such as rainbow and brown trout, are highly sought after by anglers due to their game-fighting qualities and taste.
Trout are also considered keystone animals found in lakes, meaning they are essential to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem they inhabit.
Carp are a species of fish found in many freshwater lakes worldwide. They have long, sleek bodies and can grow up to 3 feet long.
Carps are omnivorous; they eat plant matter and other small animals, such as insects, crustaceans, and mollusks.
They are known to congregate in large groups in shallow areas near the shore and feed on whatever is available.
While they may seem harmless, carp can cause problems for other fish species and vegetation if their population gets too high.
Perch are one of the most popular freshwater animals found in lakes. They can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia lakes and ponds.
Perch are usually green, brown, or gray in color and have black stripes on their sides.
They are bottom feeders and use their sharp teeth to consume small insects, crustaceans, and aquatic vegetation.
Perch are popular game fish; many anglers enjoy catching them for sport or food.
22. Northern Pike
Northern Pike is a freshwater fish with long, slender bodies and sharp teeth. It is one of the top predators in lakes and rivers, and its diet consists of fish, amphibians, insects, crustaceans, and mollusks.
They can grow up to four feet long and weigh up to 30 pounds. Northern pike is usually greenish-gray with white or yellow spots but can also vary in color from brown to olive.
They spawn in the spring when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Northern pikes are animals found in lakes and can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Gar is a long and slender freshwater fish with a long, pointed snout. It is usually found in slow-moving rivers and lakes but can also live in brackish waters.
It has a large, bony head with a mouth full of sharp teeth, making it a powerful predator.
Gar are well-adapted to their aquatic environment and have an air bladder that helps them remain buoyant.
They feed primarily on other fish, crustaceans, and frogs, using their long snouts to hunt for prey.
24. Muskellunge “Musky”
Native to the large lakes and rivers of North America, Muskellunge (or Musky) is a large species of freshwater fish that can grow up to five feet in length.
They have olive-colored bodies with dark spots, a large head, and large, sharp teeth. They prey on smaller fish and crayfish, although they will also eat frogs and insects.
They’re often common types of animals found in lakes and shallow waters around vegetation, where they use the cover to ambush their prey.
Due to their elusive nature, Musky are considered a prized game fish, and catching one is a feat many anglers strive for.
Sturgeon is one of the oldest living species on earth and can live up to 100 years! They are mainly found in large lakes, rivers, and estuaries and can grow up to 10 feet long.
Sturgeon feeds mainly on mollusks, crustaceans, and insects but eats small fish and other aquatic organisms.
They are an important commercial fish species due to their large size and high demand for their caviar.
To protect them from overfishing, they are strictly managed and regulated by government authorities.
Eels are slimy, snake-like fish that inhabit freshwater and saltwater. They are animals found in lakes, rivers, estuaries, and oceans worldwide.
Eels have long, thin bodies with no scales and a dorsal fin running from their head to the tail. The most common eel species are the American eel, the European eel, and the Japanese eel.
Eels feed on smaller fish, crabs, and aquatic insects, becoming important ecosystem predators.
27. River Otter
River otters (Lontra canadensis) are among the most commonly seen aquatic animals found in lakes.
They are known for their playful, curious nature and can be seen swimming and playing in the water.
River otters have long, streamlined bodies that allow them to move quickly and gracefully through the water.
They have thick fur, which helps them keep warm in cold temperatures and also helps to reduce drag when swimming.
Their webbed feet help them move easily through the water, while their long tails help them steer.
River otters can also be seen resting on shorelines, eating fish, frogs, crayfish, and insects.
Beavers are iconic animals of freshwater ecosystems and are well known for their impressive engineering abilities.
They can be found worldwide but are especially common in North America.
These semi-aquatic creatures build dams to create deep water reservoirs that can serve as homes and protect them from predators.
They are well adapted to living in and near lakes, with webbed feet and a waterproof fur coat that allows them to swim effectively.
Beavers also have large incisor teeth that they use to cut down trees for building materials.
Muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents that live in wetlands and lakes. They have thick fur, webbed feet, and long tails, which help them swim.
Their diet includes aquatic vegetation, insects, mollusks, amphibians, and fish.
Muskrats can build dens and lodges of up to six feet in diameter that are partially submerged underwater and offer protection from predators.
Nutria, or coypu, are large rodents native to South America. They are semi-aquatic animals that typically inhabit slow-moving rivers, marshes, ponds, and lakes.
Nutria has thick fur coats, webbed feet, and a rat-like tail which aids them in their excellent swimming ability.
In the wild, nutria feed on aquatic vegetation such as roots, stems, leaves, grasses, and aquatic plants.
They are also known to consume small invertebrates such as crayfish and snails. Nutria populations can quickly become out of control due to their high reproductive rate.
Humans often consider them a nuisance species because they are animals found in lakes.
Mink are sleek, semi-aquatic mammals found in lakes and other bodies of water. These small carnivores can be identified by their dark brown fur, long slender body, and webbed feet.
Mink are active both during the day and night, and they feed mainly on fish, amphibians, and crustaceans.
They often build dens on the banks of lakes and rivers, which they use to shelter and raise their young.
32. Water Shrew
Water shrews are small, semi-aquatic mammals that are found in lakes and rivers across the world.
They have slim bodies and long tails, which help them to swim through the water. They have sharp claws that allow them to dig for food and webbed feet for swimming.
Water shrews are carnivores and feed on invertebrates, such as insect larvae, as well as small fish and amphibians.
These animals are often seen swimming and diving near the shoreline of lakes, especially during the early morning and late evening hours.
Bullfrogs are large, semi-aquatic amphibian animals found in lakes and many temperate lakes worldwide.
Their characteristic deep, throaty croaking is easily recognizable and can be heard from miles away.
Bullfrogs are carnivorous, consuming a variety of prey, including small mammals, fish, insects, crustaceans, and other amphibians.
Their diet varies depending on the size of the frog, with larger individuals able to consume larger prey items.
They also have thick skin and long legs, which help them move quickly through the water and make them powerful swimmers.
In some regions, bullfrogs are considered a delicacy and can be eaten traditionally.
34. Leopard Frog
The leopard frog is a species of frog native to North America. It is one of the common animals found in lakes, streams, and ponds throughout the continent.
It has distinct spots along its back and sides, with a light green or yellowish-brown coloration.
The leopard frog is nocturnal, meaning it is most active at night. During the day, they hide among vegetation or beneath rocks or logs, making them difficult to spot because they are animals found in lakes.
They are an important part of the aquatic food chain, providing food for many different animals, such as snakes, raccoons, and fish.
Toads are amphibian animals found in lakes and streams. They have dry, bumpy skin and spend most of their time burrowing in the mud or under rocks and logs near the water’s edge.
Toads eat anything they can catch, including insects, worms, snails, and other small invertebrates.
They also lay their eggs in water, often in clusters of long strands. Toads can make a variety of vocalizations and are important predators in freshwater ecosystems.
Clams are small aquatic animals found in lakes and live in the mud and sand of many lakes.
These mollusks are filter feeders, straining food from the water as they filter it. They are a great food source for birds, reptiles, and fish.
Clams can be found in all sizes, colors, and shapes and provide an important ecosystem service in lakes.
Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans found in lakes, rivers, and streams. They are scavengers, eating decaying plant and animal matter on the lake bottom and insects, snails, worms, and small fish.
Crayfish have a hard exoskeleton and can grow up to 7 inches long. They are important sources of food for larger animals like otters and raccoons.
Crabs are crustaceans that can be found in many bodies of water, including lakes. They have a hard outer shell and typically feed on small plants and animals.
There are many species of crabs that inhabit freshwater lakes and can range from tiny to large. Some species also burrow into the mud or sand in shallow waters of the lake.
Snails are small aquatic creatures with coiled shells found in most freshwater lakes.
They feed on algae and other organic matter and can be seen gliding over the surface of the water or along the bottom.
Snails are important to the lake’s ecosystem because they help control algae growth and provide food for larger aquatic predators.
Leech is a type of aquatic worm that can be found in lakes. They attach themselves to the skin of larger animals found in lakes, including humans, and feed on their blood.
Leeches can also be used medicinally, as their anticoagulant properties can help reduce blood clotting.
Worms are a diverse group of animals that can be found in freshwater lakes.
Worms come in various shapes and sizes, from tiny flatworms to earthworms. The presence of worms in a lake helps aerate the sediment and provide food for fish.
Many species of worms play an important role in a lake’s food web, providing food for larger animals such as fish and amphibians.
Worms are also an important source of nutrition for aquatic birds, such as ducks and herons.
Worms can even help filter pollutants and toxins from lake water, making them a crucial part of any healthy aquatic ecosystem.
Swans are a majestic bird species that can be seen inhabiting lakes worldwide. They typically live in pairs and migrate seasonally, frequently in large flocks.
Swans have white plumage and long, curved necks that are used to forage for food beneath the water’s surface.
They feed mainly on aquatic vegetation but will also eat small animals like fish or insects.
Although graceful in flight, swans can become territorial and aggressive when defending their nests or young.
43. Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron is a majestic sight to see and often animals found in lakes.
It stands up to four feet tall with a wingspan of up to six feet, and its long legs and neck make it easily recognizable.
It typically feeds on fish, frogs, snakes, small mammals, and insects. To catch its prey, the heron will stand motionless at the shoreline and lunge forward when it spots an animal.
It can also be seen wading in shallow waters or floating on the surface, looking for food.
The Great Blue Heron is usually solitary, but it will form large colonies near water sources during nesting season.
44. Green Heron
The green heron, or Butorides virescens, is common in many lakes and wetlands.
This small waterbird is typically seen perched on branches or logs near the water’s edge, waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by.
It has a long neck, pointed bill, and distinctive green and rust-colored feathers. They feed primarily on fish but eat frogs, insects, and crustaceans.
Egrets are long-legged birds of the heron family with long, slender beaks and white or grey feathers.
They often wade through lakes and rivers, fishing for fish and amphibians. Their elegant plumage and graceful movement make them popular in many wetlands and waterways.
Egrets are animals found in lakes and can be found worldwide, though they are most common in warm, temperate climates.
46. Common Loon
The Common Loon is a species of large aquatic animal found in lakes worldwide.
The Common Loon is easily recognizable with its black and white feathers and red eyes.
It has a distinctive call that can be heard echoing across the lake and can be very loud. The Common Loon is often found alone.
However, in the breeding season, pairs can be seen on the lake. They dive into the water to feed on small fish, amphibians, and insects.
The Common Loon builds a floating nest made from vegetation, twigs, and other materials, which it uses to raise its young.
They are majestic birds that have symbolized lakes for many years and can often be seen gliding gracefully across the water.
Salamanders are amphibians, meaning they live in water and on land. Many animals are found in lakes, where they feed on worms, snails, and other small aquatic creatures. They often hide in crevices or under rocks and logs near the shoreline.
Salamanders come in various colors and sizes, ranging from the Giant Salamander, which can grow to over 1 meter in length, to the smaller Dwarf Salamander, which only grows to around 8 centimeters.
48. Zebra Mussel
The zebra mussel is a small, among freshwater mollusk animals found in lakes. These animals are native to the Caspian Sea but have been introduced to many other water bodies worldwide.
Zebra mussels feed on plankton and other small aquatic organisms and can filter up to one liter of water daily.
Unfortunately, their presence has had a negative impact on other species in these environments by out-competing them for food and space.
49. Freshwater Shrimp
Freshwater shrimp are small aquatic invertebrates that are often seen swimming around the edges of lakes and rivers.
They are among the types of crustacean animals found in lakes that can grow up to two inches long.
They are most commonly found in freshwater habitats but can also be found in brackish waters.
Freshwater shrimp are important to aquatic ecosystems as they feed on detritus and algae, help aerate the water, and provide food for larger animals.
Ducks are a common sight in many lakes and rivers. These water-loving birds make up for their rather plain exteriors with lively personalities and bright plumage.
From the majestic mallard to the beautiful wood duck, ducks are a popular source of entertainment for outdoor adventurers and special animal found.
They can swim and dive for food or rest on the lake’s surface. Ducks are also important in the lake’s ecosystem, acting as predators and prey.
Coots are small to medium-sized aquatic birds belonging to the rail family Rallidae.
They are black or dark grey with a white bill and forehead. They have short wings and prefer to swim rather than fly.
Coots feed mainly on aquatic vegetation and small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates.
They are animals found in lakes, wetlands, ponds, lakes, and rivers across North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
Geese are waterfowl animals found in lakes. They come in a wide variety of species, with some of the most common types being the Canada Goose, the Snow Goose, and the Ross’s Goose.
Geese stay near the lake’s shoreline and feed on aquatic plants, insects, and small fish.
Geese are social creatures and often travel in large flocks, so it’s not uncommon to see multiple geese in one area.
Sandpipers are a type of shorebird that can be found living in and around many lakes.
Sandpipers can vary in size, with some species as small as 4.5 inches and some up to 11 inches. They have long legs and a pointed bill that helps them pick out food in shallow waters.
Most sandpiper species are migratory, but some stay near the lake year-round.
Sandpipers feed on small insects, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates that they find along the shoreline.
These birds breed in large colonies, often near water bodies, where they can also take refuge from predators. They are unique common types of animals found in lakes.
Pelicans are large water animals found in lakes. They have long, pouched beaks, long necks, and short webbed feet.
Pelicans have short, grey feathers on their bodies with white feathers on their heads and wings. They have a six- to seven-foot wingspan and weigh around nine pounds.
However, Pelicans feed on small fish, crustaceans, and aquatic invertebrates, which they catch while swimming or diving in the water.
They dive from the air into the water to catch their prey and can dive up to twenty feet below the surface. Pelicans also feed on carrion and may occasionally steal food from other birds.
Pelicans can often be seen flying over lakes in large flocks. Their flapping wings make a whooshing noise as they fly over the water for food.
Pelicans often breed and nest near the shoreline of lakes, using trees and reeds to build their nests.
Breeding season is typically between April and June, when the female will lay a clutch of two to four eggs which will hatch after around a month.
Pelicans are important for local ecosystems as they help control the populations of fish and other aquatic creatures, keeping them in balance.
They also provide an important food source for larger predators such as eagles and hawks.
55. Snapping Turtle
Snapping turtles are common among types of animals found in lakes and can be identified by their long necks and large, triangular heads.
They are strong swimmers with sharp claws and powerful jaws that can deliver an intense bite. They feed on fish, amphibians, mollusks, and insects found near the water’s surface.
Lakes are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They are home to a myriad of plants and animals.
From tiny insects to large mammals, lakes provide habitats for various species. In this blog post, we have explored different types of animals found in lakes.
We have a look at animals you may find in a lake near you. So grab your snorkels and join us for a dive into the aquatic life of lakes!
Exploring the wonders of our lakes can be a fascinating and rewarding experience.
From the depths of the sea to the shorelines of our lakes, an amazing array of animals call these bodies of water their home.