Animals in National Trail Parks: Mammals

National Trail offers seven nature preserves that provide rich and diverse habitats for resident wildlife as well as appealing rest stops for migratory birds. The below mammals have been spotted in National Trail parks. Click each animal to learn more about them and where they have been seen.

Animal descriptions and images courtesy of ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Badgers go largely unnoticed in Ohio because of their secretive and nocturnal nature. Their short, stout bodies are built for rapid digging so they are capable of hiding themselves quickly when alarmed. Because of these traits, it is difficult to get an accurate estimation of population size.

Spotted At: Snyder Park

The beaver is North America’s largest rodent, weighing up to 60 lbs and measuring 25-30 inches long.

Spotted At – Buck Creek

Most Ohio bats are descriptively little and brown, including this species. Because of this, bats can easily be misidentified. It takes an experienced scientist to be able to observe the closer details and identify the species. Once thought to be the most common species in Ohio, the little brown population size has declined dramatically due to habitat loss and White- nose Syndrome.

Ohio Status: Species of Concern

Spotted At: Most National Trail Parks

Native American folklore is filled with tales of the coyote. This animal is either revered for its intelligence and ability to resolve a conflict or threat to its life or is frowned upon for being a cunning and deceiving manipulator, much as it is thought of in real life. The coyote is not native to Ohio, but it is present throughout the state today. Love or hate it, the coyote has the ability to make the best of a bad situation to survive or even prosper. Usually, we associate the coyote with the open, deserted lands of the west. As its presence in Ohio shows, this versatile animal can make a home most anywhere.

Spotted At – Snyder Park, Old Reid Park, Rebert Pike Nature Park, Buck Creek Nature Park, New Reid Park, Veterans Park

Want to get involved in National Trail’s coyote research project, Common Sense Coyote?

The fox squirrel is one of four squirrel species in Ohio; grayred, and flying squirrels are the other three. Of the four, the fox squirrel is the largest. Fox squirrels were not originally inhabitants of Ohio. The extensive, heavily wooded forest of pre-settlement Ohio was not their preferred habitat. Only when settlement cleared some of the dense woods away and provided open areas and fewer dense woodlots did the fox squirrel start to make Ohio home, moving into the area from the geographical Midwest prairie edge.

Spotted At: All National Trail Parks

The long-tailed weasel is distinguished by its yellowish-white underparts and the black tip on the end of its long, bushy tail. The tail is about 50 percent of its total body length.

Spotted At: Buck CreekSnyder Park

The mink was probably common in Ohio before settlement and today it occurs in every county in Ohio. Because of its preference for small streams cluttered with vegetation or wooded banks, the highest population densities occur in eastern and southeastern Ohio. The mink is prized by the trapper both for its pelt and for the great skill required to capture it. To the wildlife enthusiast, the sight of this elusive furbearer is a thrilling surprise that must be experienced quickly, before the dynamic creature can scurry away to a place of concealment.

Spotted At – Rebert Pike Nature Park, Buck Creek

Muskrats are large freshwater rodents that look very much like a beaver, but are actually related to mice and rats. This is where they get the second part of their name, because their tail looks like that of a rat. The first part of their name comes from the strong-smelling odor, or musk, that the muskrat produces during mating season and to mark its territory. Muskrats have had many names given to them over the years: marsh rabbit, mud cat, mud beaver, and the Algonquin Indian tribe called it musquash.

Spotted At – Old Reid Park, Snyder Park, Buck Creek, Buck Creek Nature Park

Raccoons are found in all parts of Ohio. For many years our raccoon population has been growing. They have moved into towns and cities and can live almost any place where there is food for them to eat and a den to serve as shelter. Many of them live, temporarily at least, in drain tiles and sewer systems. There is little wonder why they are plump, as raccoons will sample anything that even remotely resembles food.

Spotted At –  All National Trail Parks

The red fox is one of two fox species in Ohio and one of five in North America. The state’s other fox is the gray fox. The Arctic, swift, and kit foxes are the other species found in North America. North American foxes inhabit a wide range of habitats from deserts to forests to snow-covered tundras. This isn’t completely surprising as the red and other foxes are members of the same family of adaptable animals that includes the wolves, coyote, and domestic dog — Canidae

Spotted At –  Snyder Park, Buck Creek, Old Reid Park, New Reid Park, Rebert Pike Nature Park

The flying squirrel is the most common squirrel in Ohio. Because they are nocturnal and seldom seen, most people don’t recognize that they live with flying squirrels.

Spotted At – All National Trail Parks

Skunks are known to everyone by sight, smell, and reputation. They are found in every county of Ohio as well as throughout the United States. Pioneers found the striped skunk when they came to Ohio, although skunk numbers are far greater now. Skunks are most abundant in rural Ohio where there are farms with fencerows, forest edges and old fields. They are also found in urban areas. Skunks are known for their ability to spray musk when threatened. They can spray with great accuracy up to 15 feet.

Spotted At – All National Trail Parks

The opossum is North America’s only marsupial (a mammal that carries its underdeveloped young in a pouch until they are capable of living independently). It is also one of the oldest and most primitive species of mammal in North America. This animal is little changed from its ancestors 70 million years ago.

Opossums were probably rare in the vast forests of unsettled Ohio, but began to take hold as the land was cleared for agriculture. Today they are found in every county of the state, and slightly more abundant in southern Ohio.

Spotted At – All National Trail Parks

The white-tailed deer, commonly referred to as the whitetail, is perhaps Ohio’s best-known wildlife species. It is seen in the state’s wildlife areas, parks, and nature preserves as well as in the backyards of rural and suburban residents. The state’s only big game animal, it has provided table fare for generations of the state’s inhabitants from Native Americans to thousands of sportsmen and women today.

Spotted At – All National Trail Parks