12 of Lake Tahoe’s Most Dangerous Animals

Lake Tahoe is a place to visit not just for its ski resort but also for the beautiful view of the mountains surrounding it. The lake is the deepest in the region, located in Sierra Nevada Mountains at the border between Nevada and California.

Although it’s a place to visit, Lake Tahoe carries the most dangerous animals, small and big, common and rare. They include mountain lions, coyotes, rattlesnakes and many others.

In this article are the 12 most dangerous animals to keep an eye on when in the paradise of Lake Tahoe. Keep reading to know them all. 


12 Most Dangerous Animals of Lake Tahoe

1. Black Bear

Although they coexist with humans, these bears (Ursus americanus) are known for being less aggressive. They are herbivores and feed on fruits and vegetation of the region. But never underestimate their power.

Black bears are strong and very defensive when provoked. They’ll become aggressive when you attack them. And watch out for the suckling mothers; they’ll always protect their young ones.

2. Mountain Lion

Mountain lions (Felis concolor) are close relatives of the common lions found in most parts of African Savannah. They belong to the cat family and have strong jaws full of canine teeth and sharp nails on their paws. Being predatory animals, they mainly prey on others for their meat. 

Mountain lions can take down bigger animals like deer so just imagine what they’ll do to humans when provoked or you cross their territories. 

You’ll likely find these animals in Nevada’s deep forest and mountainous regions. They look like big cats with smaller heads, smaller faces, longer tails, rounder ears and smooth bodies. They are faster and can run up to 50 miles per hour.

Most people refer to them as Puma. A fully grown Puma can reach 2 feet high and 7 feet long and can weigh around 150 Lbs. 

3. Pronghorn Antelope

Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana) is among the fastest animal on land; it can run up to 60 miles/hour. A fully grown can weigh around 130 lbs and grow to 59 inches long. 

These animals are dangerous and known for causing car wreckage during the night when crossing the road. They are known to cause loss of life because they run so fast and can collide with anything when crossing. 

4. Mule Deer

Like the pronghorn antelope, the Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) has the same character of colliding with anything coming on its way when running. The Mule Deer is the leading distractor of cars across Nevada. 

Although they look peaceful and non-threatening, Mule Deer are among the most dangerous animals you’ll come across in Lake Tahoe. If a full-grown Mule Deer can destroy automobiles imagine what it’ll do to humans. 

5. Bobcat

Bobcat looks almost the same as lynx (Lynx rufus). They love inhabiting mountains, coastal swamps, scrubland, and forest regions. Bobcats are predatory animals and well-adapted to prey on others. They have sharp teeth and sharp nails on their paws.

Bobcats are smaller in size, and a fully grown can weigh 18kg and grow 15cm long. They have body markings and possess short black tails

They are nocturnal, meaning they are only active during the night. They are solitary animals and love relaxing in their den during the day. 

They love creating markings on tree barks using their sharp nails to show they possess the territories. Bobcats are secretive and quiet animals and tend to avoid human interaction. But they’ll attack when threatened or provoked in their habitat. 

6. Leeches

Leeches (Hirudinea) are bloodsuckers and belong to the earthworm-like species. They have different colors and vary in size depending on the geographical location. They have very small teeth that help them attach to the host skin to suck its blood. 

Leaches seem of no threat to humans, but they have dangerous bacteria they can transmit to the host. So if you’re out to Lake Tahoe, keep an eye out for the leeches. 

7. Garter Snake 

The garter snake (Theosophies sirtalis) is among the harmless reptiles in Lake Tahoe’s marshes, wetlands and forest. Although they are harmless to humans, their saliva contains a small amount of venom that can make their prey, like the mouse, inactive. 

Their teeth are nonvenomous, but their saliva secretion in the human bloodstream can also harm a person if not treated sooner. If garter snake saliva enters your bloodstream, below are the symptoms to look for:

  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling in the affected area 
  • Skin irritation

Wash the affected area with warm water and soap before heading for medication. 

8. Great Basin Rattlesnake 

Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) is among the deadliest reptiles you’ll come across in the rocky areas, watersides of the lake or under vegetation around Lake Tahoe. This Great Basin Rattlesnake is a pit viper and among the deadliest across the united states. 

They have exceptional adaptation for detecting any movement or heat around them. The special detectors on the head and tail help them do so. 

To know if it’s approaching, you listen to the rattling sound it produces as it moves. These rattlesnakes are not known for being highly provoked but will attack when cornered. Although they are venomous, they love staying hidden and quiet, and it could take time before noticing their presence. 

9. Deer Mouse

Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is very small and has fur like deer. They may look like no threat, but you’re mistaken. They are omnivores and love inhabiting brushland, desert, forest, grassland and woodland regions. 

These Mice can grow up to 10cm long and 20g in weight. Although they are small, they carry the deadliest virus known as Hantavirus. The virus is in their urine and poops and has fatal consequences when it comes into contact with humans. 

10. Coyotes

Coyotes (Cans latrans) are close relatives of wolves. They help maintain the rodent population around Lake Tahoe. You’re likely to find them inhabiting plains, deserts and forest regions. They are omnivores and eat anything ranging from fruits and vegetables to flesh and carcasses. 

Many people mistake them for wolves, but they have a narrower faces with big ears than wolves. These coyotes can grow up to 3 feet long, weigh 46 lbs. and run 40 miles/hour. Coyotes are lonely animals, and it’s hard to find them hunting in parks. They only live in families of two to three coyotes. 

Researchers group them as intelligent animals and adopt them according to the situation. They can hunt together with other animals. Unlike other wild dogs and wolves, coyotes are not nocturnal and attacking humans is rare. 

But never underestimate these creatures. They have strong jaws full of sharp teeth which can attack when provoked. Coyotes are very defensive when threatened and protective when they have young ones. 

11. Porcupine

Porcupines are known globally for their defensive mechanism of the quills they possess on their backs. They have thousands of quills on their backs that detach easily and remain on the attacker’s body. 

These porcupines are found around the Lake Tahoe basins and are active from down and through the night. They are great tree climbers and can climb trees at great heights. You’re less likely to encounter them but when you do, never threaten to catch them. The quills on their back will make them regret your act. 

Porcupines are of different types, some big while others are small; some have fur on their body with no quills, while others are big and can shoot with their quills. So you should never underestimate them and think they are harmless. 

12. Chipmunk

Chipmunk is a terrestrial squirrel small in size and stripe body and is known for its large internal cheek pouches. They have prominent ears and eyes, delicate claws and furry tails. They are only active during the day, but a single specie that is nocturnal is found mainly in some parts of North America. They can grow 7 to 15 cm long and have 5 to 14 cm long tails. 

They are adapted to exploit resources in the forest, Lake Basin and rocky terrain. Most people refer to them as pygmy squirrels because of their size.

Why are they grouped among the dangerous animals around Lake Tahoe? Chipmunks sometimes test positive for the deadliest bubonic plague, which hit Europe and North America in the early centuries. 

The United States Forest Service official had to close some parts of Lake Tahoe because a dead chipmunk tested positive for the deadliest bubonic plague. 


Lake Tahoe is among the beautiful lake regions of Nevada that most people dream of visiting. The landscape is exceptional for a ski resort, and the lake water is good for swimming if you’re a cold water lover. Although the place is a paradise, there are a lot of animals to watch out for.

The lake region carries the deadliest animals, both small and big. The mountain lions, coyotes, chipmunks, and black bears are just a few to mention. The Rattle is also a pit viper that can harm from afar. If you’ve to visit this place, please ensure you keep an eye out for your safety.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.