Mammals

[links from natural histories]

Mammals [links to]

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    Bat, Little Brown (Myotis lucifugus)

    Coyote (Canis latrans)

    Opposum (Didelphis virginiana)

    Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

    Skunk, Striped (Mephitis mephitis)

    Squirrel, Douglas’ (Tamiasciurus douglasii)

    Squirrel, Eastern Grey (Sciurus carolinensis)

Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)

Adults: 7-10 cm, 5-8 grams

Did You Know?

  • British Columbia has 16 species of bats and 6 of them live in Stanley Park
  • One little brown bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour
  • Little brown bats are the most frequently seen bats in North America
  • Little brown Bats can roost alone or in a colony of thousands
  • Bats cannot take off from a horizontal surface

Characteristics

  • Adult little brown bats measure 7-10 cm in length and weigh 5-8 grams
  • They have light to dark brown fur
  • There is no fur on the wings or ears of the bats

Habitat

  • Little brown bats remain near bodies of water
  • No one knows what all of BC’s bats do in the winter
  • It is believed that the bats migrate to warmer climates or go into a mild state of hibernation in caves, under tree bark, buildings and attics

Diet

  • During the day, bats roost in sheltered dark areas such as caves, attics, roofs and trees
  • They feed between 5 hours after dusk and just before dawn

Breeding

  • Mating occurs in late fall but fertilization doesn’t occur until spring
  • Female bats form nursery colonies
  • There will be just a single young
  • Young bats are independent a month after birth

Coyotes (Canis latrans)

Did You Know?

  • Coyotes can sprint at 65 kilometres per hour, and trot comfortably at speeds of 20-30 kilometres per hour
  • Coyotes can do a 5 metre long jump, and leap over a 2 metre high fence
  • Coyote dens often have an entrance, an exit, and a second smaller chamber to help drain water
  • Coyotes are ventriloquists. They can throw and scatter their voices with ease

Characteristics and behaviour

  • Coyotes in Vancouver weigh 9-16 kg (20-35 lbs) – less than many adult raccoons and beavers. Coyotes often appear larger due to their thick fur coat
  • Coyotes measure 120-50 cm from nose to tail and stand 58-66 cm high at the shoulder
  • Coyotes can be identified by their erect ears, bushy black-tipped tail, slim muzzle, and slender build
  • Coyotes are active both day and night
  • Coyotes spend most of their time in the core areas of their territories and home ranges

 

Coyote home range, territory, and core area

Habitat

  • Coyotes live in almost every developed and wild area of North America
  • Originally a desert and grassland animal, coyotes now live in a wide range of habitats – from prairie to boreal and montane forests
  • 400 years ago, coyotes where found in the central and southwestern United States. Now they range from Alaska to Costa Rica

Diet

  • Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and will eat everything from hares and rabbits to rodents, fish, fruit, berries, nuts, eggs and even garbage
  • Coyotes in the city feed primarily on rats and mice. They also eat squirrels, raccoons, fallen fruit, berries, compost, garbage, fish, snails, birds, eggs, small dogs and cats

Breeding:

  • Coyotes usually mate with the same partner for life
  • Females are in heat for about 10 days between January and March
  • Pups are born between March and May, after a gestation period of approximately 63 days
  • Pups are born blind and nearly naked. They leave the den after three weeks
  • Litters have between 4 and 7 pups

Coyote Sign

[ Learn more about identifying coyote sign ]

Is someone in your neighbourhood feeding coyotes? Are you, or one of your neighbours, unintentionally attracting coyotes?  Visit the Co-Existing With Coyotes pages to learn how you can prevent conflicts between people, pets and coyotes.

Opposum (Didelphis virginiana)

Did You Know?

  • The opposum is the only marsupial in North America (They raise their newborn in stomach pouches just like kangaroos)
  • When frightened, opposums remain motionless  – hence the expression “playing possum”
  • At birth, opposums are the size of a honeybee
  • Opposums use their tail to hang from trees or carry objects
  • Northern opposums often get frostbite on their ears or tail
  • The first opposum found in BC was in 1950, a migrant from USA

Characteristics

  • Adults are 65-85 cm in length with tail (similar to the size of a cat) and weight 1-2 kg
  • Opposums have long grey hair
  • Their tail is hairless and grasp powerfully. It resembles a rat’s tail
  • They are active only after dark

Habitat

  • Opposums live in woodlands, streams, and farming areas
  • They may be found in urban environments
  • They are adaptable to non native area
  • Millions are killed by cars in North America each year

Diet

  • Opposums’ diet includes: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, eggs, insects and carrion

Breeding

  • Opposums give birth to litters of up to 13
  • The young spend the first 60 days of their life in their mother’s pouch

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Did You Know?

  • Raccoons are in the same scientific family as the giant panda
  • They have 2 different types of fur coats: One for winter and another for summer
  • Raccoons are flat-footed like humans and bears (unlike cats or dogs)
  • Raccoons’ nimble fingers can turn doorknobs and open fridges
  • Raccoons are excellent swimmers

Characteristics

  • Adults are 65-100 cm in length – including the tail and weigh 5-15 kg
  • They have a distinctive black mask and ringed tail
  • They are excellent climbers but cannot jump over things

Habitat

  • Wooded and wetland habitats
  • Many are found in urban settings, backyards and alleys
  • Raccoons live in urban, rural and natural areas throughout North America

Diet

  • Raccoons are scavengers and predators
  • Their diet is made up of nuts and berries, rats, eggs, mice, insects, frogs and garbage

Breeding

  • A female will give birth to a litter of 1-8, usually born between April and July
  • Raccoon dens are typically in dark, dry places like hollow trees, attics, below houses, and in sheds
  • The entrance to a den can be as small as a grapefruit

Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

Did You Know?

  • Skunks use spray only as a last resort defense. They will stomp their feet, flee, growl or hiss before spraying. They will spray immediately if they are pursued, startled  or threatened by dogs or predators at close range
  • Skunk spray is accurate for 3-5 meters and the range depends on the individual animal, the strength and direction of the wind, and the amount of spray.
  • There are two scent glands on the skunk that can fire separately or simultaneously. The spray is not only potent in smell but causes pain  and intense burning in the target’s eyes. Contrary to an old myth however, it does not cause permanent blindness.
  • 5-6 week old skunks are “fully loaded” with spray and instinctively aim for their target’s eyes
  • Skunks can spray multiple times before their glands empty out. The average skunk can spray 4-5 times before this happens. Since the secretion is continuously being created by the animal, it usually has sufficient spray for a few releases and can replenish itself in hours.
  • None of the skunk’s spray touches their fur when they fire. Their glands extend past their fur, fire and retract

Characteristics

  • Adults measure at 20-35cm and weigh 2-4kg
  • Skunks have short legs and move slowly
  • They have recognizable black fur with two white stripes down the back
  • Urban skunks are most active at night but can also be active during daylight hours

Habitat

  • Skunks were original residents of semi-open country, mixed woods and prairie areas
  • They adapt very well to urban settings
  • Urban dens under houses and sheds are common
  • The skunk den is clean and relatively scent free. It will be abandoned in early fall when the occupying 3-8 young are in the final phase of preparation for independence

Diet

  • The striped skunk’s diet consists of plants, insects, mice, worms and fruit. The animals will also eat eggs, carrion, fish etc
  • This animal is primarily a grub eater. They’re known – like raccoons – to cause havoc by turning up sod or new lawns for food. They will also shred a garbage bag to get at its contents

Breeding

  • Skunks mage in February and March. Usually, 4-7 young are born in May

 Douglas’ Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)

Did You Know?

  • The Douglas’ squirrel is also called a Chickaree
  • Douglas’ squirrels occasionally nest in abandoned woodpecker nests
  • The squirrel’s teeth grow (and are worn down) through most of their adult life

Characteristics

  • Adults are 25-35 cm in length (with tail) and weigh 150-275 grams
  • They have a coat of reddish brown fur
  • These animals are very vocal. Noises include chatter, barks and growls

Habitat

  • They live mainly in the coastal rainforest
  • Sightings in backyards of homes are very rare

Diet:

  • Douglas’ squirrels eat mainly seeds and cones, fir, pine, spruce and hemlock
  • They also eat nuts, berries and mushrooms

Breeding:

  • Squirrels nest in hollow trees or build a leaf and twig nest high in an evergreen tree
  • A single litter of young is usually born in May or June

 Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

 

Did You Know?

  • Most of British Columbia’s grey squirrels are black (they can be either grey or black)
  • Eastern grey squirrels were introduced into Stanley Park in 1914 and have since spread all over the Lower Mainland
  • The Grey Squirrel, a North American original, was introduced in England in 1890. It now lives in most parts of the UK

Characteristics

  • Adult eastern grey squirrels range in length – with tail – from 40-50 cm and weigh 400-650 grams
  • They are much larger than the Douglas’ squirrel
  • They’re black or grey and have large bushy tails

Habitat

  • Eastern grey squirrels prefer deciduous or mixed forests
  • They are well adapted to residential settings and are very common in backyards

Diet

  • The eastern grey squirrel’s diet consists of seeds of oak, maple, ash and elm trees
  • They also feed on flower buds, fruit and leaves in spring and summer
  • They’re known to eat eggs or young birds

Breeding

  • Eastern grey squirrels can have up to 2 litters of 1-8 young per year
  • The young usually born between April and August
  • Squirrels frequently nest in trees, attics and chimneys