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.
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 Recreation Area of the park.
Virtually all visitors to the park have an excellent opportunity to see some mammals, such as white-tailed deer and red 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.
Click here for a list of mammals in the MNRR (31 KB pdf)