Mule Deer posing at Harbor Bay
Mule Deer at Harbor Bay

NPS Photo

Mammals are one of the most adaptable groups of animals. Some can fly, many can swim, and they have adaptations that allow them to survive in both hot and cold climates. Mammals are warm-blooded (or endothermic, meaning they can regulate their own body temperature) and have fur or hair. Females produce milk which they feed to their babies.

Lake Meredith has a variety of mammals, including key predators and big game species. The reason there are so many different mammals is because Lake Meredith has diversified habitats such as wetlands, rocky mesas, water, bottomlands, freshwater marsh, Canadian River Breaks, grasslands, lakeshore, and riparian areas.

Prior to 1965, the free-flowing Canadian River ran across a sandy bottom enclosed by steep canyon walls. When the Sanford Dam was completed in 1965, this free flowing stream ceased to exist and was replaced by the lake. Before this time, there was only the riparian habitat of the stream bed. Today, there are several habitats each with its own component of life.

Mule Deer Odocoileus hemionus
Two Mule Deer
Two Mule Deer

NPS Photo

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Odocoileus hemionus
Habitat: Desert and mountainous areas
Size: 130 to 280 pounds
Life span: 9-11 years
Diet: Mesquite leaves and beans, other shrubs and grasses

Lake Meredith has two species of deer living in several habitats around the lake. The larger of the two is the Mule Deer. This deer has large ears, which allow for excellent hearing. Mule Deer and have a keen sense of smell, which they rely upon for protection from danger.


Coyote Canis latrans

Coyote NPS
Coyote in the wilderness

NPS Photo

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Canis Iatrans
Habitat: Widely disbursed throughout North America, and have adapted to living in urban environments.
Average Size: 32-37 inches tall; 16 inch tail. Average weight: 25 pounds
Average Life Span: 10-14 years
Diet: Small mammals such as rabbits and rodents. Coyotes also eat fish, frogs, insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and even deer.

Coyotes are well-known at Lake Meredith and one of the most often spotted species in the park. Coyotes are canines and similar in size to a German Shepherd weighing between 25-40 pounds. They have a tan, grey-colored, or golden coat with a bushy tail.

A coyote's preferred food is smaller mammals like rabbits and rodents. They have adapted to living around humans and scavenge for whatever food is easiest to find. As a predator, they play a key role in controlling the population sizes of smaller mammals.


Mountain Lion Puma concolor

Mountain Lion Large
Mountain Lion

NPS Photo

A large tawny cat with a long tail, the mountain lion can be very elusive and is rarely seen around Lake Meredith.
Mountain lions in our area rely upon white-tailed deer as a favorite source of food. Once numerous over North America, the mountain lion was almost hunted to extinction, but has made a comeback (as have deer populations). These big cats often hunt early in the morning or later at dusk, when many other mammals are active, especially in the hot summer months.

Bobcat Lynx rufus


Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Bobcats are so named for their short bobbed tail. These cats are smaller than mountain lions and have a tan coat with dark brown to black spots. They are most active after dark.

A bobcat's preferred food is a rabbit or a hare, and like their northern cousin the Lynx (Lynx canadensis), the population size of these cats is tied directly to the population size of their food source.


Cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus


Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

These rabbits are commonly seen crossing park roads at dusk. They live in brushy areas, fields and rock piles that provide a bit of cover and camouflage. Cottontails are herbivores that feed on grasses and forbs as well as twigs and bark.

Cottontails and other rabbits play a key role in the environment: they are a favorite food of large cats like Bobcats, helping to sustain these populations.


Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus


Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Signs of muskrats can be seen in Spring Canyon. They live near streams and marshes, often building building nests or burrowing into stream banks. Muskrats have two adaptations that help them live in wet environments: thick fur traps air, aiding in buoyancy, and partially webbed hind feet help with swimming. They are omnivores, eating grasses and aquatic plants, as well as small animals like clams and snails.

Raccoon Procyon lotor


Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

With distinctive black and white bands across their face, raccoons are easy to identify. This species is highly adaptable to most environments - including urban areas with close contact to humans. They are often nocturnal, foraging for any food they can find, from grasses and berries to insects and rodents - even trash we humans throw away. Although they do not hibernate, they can sleep for weeks at a time in their dens during the winter months.


Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

Red fox pups
Red fox pups.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Red foxes are abundant all over North America and thrive in open grasslands where they can find adequate cover for denning sites. Dens can be dug into the ground or might be found in hollowed logs. Although they are canines and often hunt for smaller mammals, studies have shown that foxes often prefer berries. Foxes are known for their excellent sense of hearing. They are able to hear low-frequency sounds and can detect smaller mammals under layers of soil (or snow in the winter!).

Last updated: April 13, 2024

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Mailing Address:

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 1460

Fritch, TX 79036


806 857-3151

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