Identifying Mammals in Maine

Many different kinds of Mammals live in the variety of ecosystems found in Maine.  It is very exciting to see an animal in the wild and often times we only get a quick glimpse before it disappears.  To have the opportunity to observe wildlife, it is first important to know the habitat which animals are most likely to be in.  For example, Seals are found in the coastal salt waters while Moose prefer the colder temperatures of the interior woodlands.

Although most mammals can be found throughout the state at any time, each individual species has specific habitat needs that can only be met in certain ecosystems.  It is easy to know that a seal must have salt water so that it can find food.  The specific needs of a moose are less obvious, moose can walk and therefore may roam anywhere within the state, even near the coast, so it is important to know more about the diet and physical adaptations to better understand  its preferred habitat.  Moose have long legs with short necks and thick fur making it easy for them to walk through deep snow in cold temperatures.  As herbivores, moose browse on plants, shrubs and trees.  Therefore moose are more likely to be found in the woods where there is snow during the cold winter months.

This comparison can be used in two ways, first to determine where to observe an animal in the wild by understanding its habitat needs, OR to identify an unknown animal that has been observed.

Here is another example to try: you glimpsed a dark-colored animal with a long tail in the highest branches of a tree before it quickly disappeared.  The location was in the woods and the animal was larger than a housecat.  Do you think it could have been a mink?  Why or why not?

Click here for a complete list of Mammals found in Maine including Shrews, Moles, small Rodents, Seals and Whales.

Click here for a description of 18 Common Mammals found in Maine with information on diet, habitat and behavior.