A fox squirrel lounges on a tree in morning sun.
Fox squirrel lounges on a tree in early morning sun.

NPS photo

What do red foxes, beavers, coyotes and Missouri National Recreational River visitors have in common? They are all mammals! Mammals vary greatly in appearance, behavior, and required habitats, but all mammals share certain characteristics, that help distinguish them from other living animals. All mammals:

  • are warm-blooded; meaning they can maintain a constant internal body temperature, despite varying external temperatures.
  • give birth to live young and can produce milk to nourish them.
  • Have hair or fur, helping to keep them warm and provide insulation.

Changing Habitat
Wildlife is plentiful in and along the Missouri River, but types of wildlife have changed since the settling of the West. Among the losses have been the grizzly bear along with large herbivores like bison and elk. Small mammals, including mice, voles, bats, rats, and ground squirrels make up the bulk of the species within the park. Deer are often seen on private property along the banks and at the Bow Creek and Green Island Recreation Areas of the park.

Viewing Mammals at MNRR
Virtually all visitors to the park have an excellent opportunity to see some mammals, such as white-tailed deer and fox squirrels. Others, like the evening bat and striped skunk are more elusive, remaining largely out of sight until darkness falls. The smallest mammals (moles, voles, and shrews) found in the park are rarely seen because they spend much of their lives underground or hidden under leaves and low growing plants. Careful observation should bring rewards in finding most of the wild inhabitants of the park.

Visit the NPSpecies database for a species list. Select the species in question using the 'Category' drop-down box and enter 'Search'.


Did you know...

Missouri National Recreational River is home to eight species of bats. Riparian forest, wooded uplands, and prairie remnants provide good bat foraging and roosting habitat. Areas with lots of large trees and surface water have high bat activity at Missouri National Recreational River. Places to observe bats during the warm season include anywhere along the river's edge and from the Meridian Bridge in Yankton, SD. The bat species in the MNRR include:
  • Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
  • Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis)
  • Hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
  • Silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
  • Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus)
  • Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
  • Evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis)
  • Tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus)

More information:
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    Last updated: September 1, 2021

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