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Texas State Large Mammal

Texas Longhorn Steer; photo by Roy Niswanger on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Official State Large Mammal of Texas

Texas designated the iconic longhorn as the official state large mammal in 1995 (Texas also recognizes an official small mammal and a state flying mammal). All State Mammals

The mere sight of a longhorn brings to mind the old west. "Their long, polished horns sometimes ran six feet from tip to tip ... they were lean and lithe, alert as a deer, half-wild, half-savage, half-human" (from "The Saga of Rodeo" by cowboy writer Chuck Walters).

In 1493, Columbus brought Spanish cattle to Santa Domingo. Within 200 years their descendants were grazing the ranges of Mexico. Translating wild cattle into hard cash was an epic struggle between man, beast and the elements - from this grew the romantic legends of the Western Cowboy. ...In the quarter century following the Civil War, 10 million head were trailed north...Longhorns have ideal characteristics - they can go incredible distances without water; rustle their own food; fend for themselves; swim rivers; and survive the desert sun and winter snow... (condensed from Longhorn History: Texas Longhorn Breeders Association).

"Most bulls today have horn spans of 50 inches or more - 60 inches is now considered normal; many bulls are over 70 and even a couple over 80 inches." - Kirk of

Official Texas Longhorn Herd

Texas also recognized Texas Parks & Wildlife's Foundation herd of longhorns as the official longhorn herd of Texas in 1969 (Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 79, 61st Legislature). By the 1920's, the Texas longhorn was on its way to extinction. Due to efforts by Texas Forest Service personnel collecting small herds and placing them in Texas state parks, this unique breed was preserved.


WHEREAS, The State of Texas traditionally has recognized a variety of official state symbols as tangible representations of the proud spirit and heritage of our state; and

WHEREAS, The bluebonnet, the pecan tree, the Guadalupe bass, and the lightning whelk are examples of some natural specimens that serve to symbolize the great diversity of the Texas landscape, while the state dish, chili, fittingly represents another aspect of our shared culture as Texans; and

WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of an Official State Mammal of Texas has been the subject of an extensive statewide mock election participated in by hundreds of elementary schoolchildren throughout our state; and

WHEREAS, The two front-runners in this race have been the armadillo and the longhorn; and

WHEREAS, Once the cornerstone of the Texas cattle industry, an estimated 10 million longhorns were herded from Texas to midwestern and western markets during the quarter century that followed the Civil War, providing invaluable stability to the state's postwar economy; and

WHEREAS, The longhorn's distinctive profile commands an immediate association with the State of Texas nationwide and is fittingly used as a visual symbol by businesses from the Rio Grande Valley to the Panhandle; and

WHEREAS, The other candidate for designation as Official State Mammal, the armadillo, is a hardy, pioneering creature that chose to begin migrating here at about the time that Texas became a state; and

WHEREAS, The armadillo possesses many remarkable and unique traits, some of which parallel the attributes that distinguish a true Texan, such as a deep respect and need for the land, the ability to change and adapt, and a fierce undying love for freedom; and

WHEREAS, As proud and indomitable as the state from which they hail, both the longhorn and the armadillo will serve as fitting symbols of Texas' unique heritage; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 74th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate the longhorn the official Large State Mammal of Texas and the armadillo the official Small State Mammal of Texas.