• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain

    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Mammals


Scientists have documented thirty nine species of mammals in Denali National Park and Preserve. Mammals here range in size from the 1,200+ pound moose to the 1.5 gram tiny shrew.

A goal for many visitors to the park is to see wildlife. On a ride along the park road visitors can see a moose browsing in a stand of willow, caribou resting on a snow patch to avoid insects, Dall sheep high on the hillsides, a wolf trotting across the tundra, or a grizzly bear feeding on ripening blueberries.

Creatures Great and Small

Many other mammals in Denali are less obvious but no less interesting and important. Sit on a talus sloe and you might hear and see a collared pika gathering winter food, a wolverine as it moves about searching for a meal, or a red fox carrying a ground squirrel back to its den.

Denali's summers are short and winters extreme. Mammals here have many adaptations that help them survive. Rodents and shrews make up more than half the species of mammals. Many keep busy in summer gathering great quantities of food to sustain them through the winter. Red squirrels store spruce cones in piles and burrows on the forest floor. The smallest mammals, the mice, voles, shrews and lemmings depend on food stockpiles while they stay active under a protective layer of winter snow. The largest rodent, the beaver, will store a brush pile at the bottom of its pond that can be accessed under water from its lodge when the pond is frozen over.

Grizzly bears, black bears, hoary marmots, and arctic ground squirrels avoid the winter by hibernating. To build up body fat reserves needed for hibernation they eat extensively in late summer.

Camouflage is an adaptation used by two of Denali's mammals. To blend in with the summer vegetation, the fur of snowshoe hare and short tailed weasel (ermine) is brown. Their fur changes to white to blend with the winter snow.

Here is a checklist of mammals found in Denali National Park and Preserve.

Did You Know?

three brown snowshoe hares

Natural sound is a matter of life and death to animals relying on complex communications. Intrusions of noise can adversely impact some wildlife, and some visitors' experiences. Denali soundscapes have been monitored since 2000, to help park managers understand Denali's natural sounds