An elevation difference of approximately 13,000 feet creates a variety of habitats and life zones in Mount Rainier that remain protected. You'll likely see different animals at each life zone change. This diversity provides for a broad assortment of invertebrates, mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
The highly visible Columbian black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, noisy Stellar's jays and common ravens are animals that many people remember. The most diverse and abundant animals in the park, however, are the invertebrates - the insects, worms, crustaceans, spiders- to name a few - that occupy all environments to the top of Columbia Crest itself.
At Mount Rainier you can find 65 mammal species, 14 species of amphibians, 5 species of reptiles, 182 species of birds, and 14 species of native fish. Invertebrates probably represent 85% of the animal biomass in the park.
About half of the birds observed in the park nest here and many are migrants that winter in the southern United States or Central America. Resident amphibians can be found in both aquatic environments or on land and reptiles are typically found in upland habitats.
Some of the more popular mammals like elk and black bear range in many habitats throughout the summer. Mountain goats typically remain in alpine or subalpine life zones.
Several animals in the park are either federally or state protected/sensitive species. Mount Rainier works to protect habitat that limits these animals from much of their former ranges.
Did You Know?
For many years, the Paradise Ice Caves were a popular attraction at Mount Rainier. Until the 1980s, visitors could explore passages within the Paradise Glacier which had formed due to seasonal melting of the ice. By the early 1990s, climate change had melted away the last traces of the caves. More...