Brown from with black spots on brown ground

Wood frog

The wood frog is usually 2 to 3 inches in length and are brown or tan to blend in with their forest home. They lay their eggs in seasonal bodies of water: pools of water that come and go with a change in the season. This ability to lay eggs in water is what makes them an amphibian.

Wood frogs are specially adapted to winter in Sleeping Bear Dunes because of their special blood. They have the ability to freeze their blood during winter to survive the frigid temperatures.

American five-lined skink

Five-lined skinks are brown striped and can grow from 5 to 8 inches long. Young skinks can be distinguished by their bright blue tails; this color eventually fades to brown when they get older. They are covered in scales and cold-blooded which is what makes them reptiles.

They like to live in moist woods or rocky areas so they can sunbathe. Skinks prefer to eat insects like spiders, crickets, and termites.



Small round fluff of feathers with two stick legs--a piping plover chick on a sandy beach

Piping Plover

Piping plovers are small, sandy colored birds that like to live on the beach. They lay their eggs in a nest of rocks on the beach in order to camouflage them from predators. The birds are only at Sleeping Bear Dunes in the summer, because they migrate to warmer weather in the winter.

The piping plover is an endangered species, meaning that there are not many left. There are around 25 pairs of birds that call Sleeping Bear Dunes home. Rangers work hard every spring to make sure that plover nests are safe from predators.

Bald Eagles

The bald eagle gets its name from the fact that it has white feathers on its head. Bald eagles are also the national bird and animal of the United States. These birds like to stay in wetlands or near large bodies of water.

This bird can grow up to 40 inches, but can have a wing span of over seven feet. They are carnivores, and especially like to eat fish. To lay their eggs eagles build some of the biggest nests of any bird, with some nests reaching 8 feet across.



Hands holding a long, narrow black-speckled brown fish

Brook Trout

The brook trout is the state fish of Michigan, as well as eight other states. Brook trout are dark green or brown with a speckles of lighter green or yellow dots on its body. These fish grow up to around two feet.

Brook trout like to live in lakes and rivers, and can usually be seen in the eastern part of the United States. These fish like to eat all kinds of insects, and sometimes even bigger animals like frogs or smaller fish.

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch can only be found in North America, and are commonly fished for sport. These fish have yellow bodies with dark vertical stripes. They can grow up to 11 inches long. Yellow perch also have sharp spines on their fins.

The yellow perch likes to live in bodies of water that have lots of weeds, and also like to hang out near docks. These fish eat different things depending on how old they are. When they are young they eat really small plankton, then move up to small insects, and as adults they like to eat larger animals like crayfish.



Headshot of black bear

Black Bear

The namesake of Sleeping Bear Dunes, this bear calls North America its home. They like to live in heavily forested areas where there isn’t a lot of people around. These mammals can grow to around 5 feet long, and can weigh up to 550 pounds.

Black bears like to come out at night when they use their excellent sense of smell and ability to swim to look for food. These bears mostly eat vegetation like acorns and berries. They also like to eat honey whenever they can find it. If they do eat animals they prefer insects like bees, but can also be known to eat fish or animal remains


Coyotes throughout North America. Although they like to live in grasslands, they have started to move into urban areas too. They usually grow to be around 25 pounds and 2 and a half feet long.

Coyotes generally come out at night when they can walk up to 10 miles to find food. Their diet includes meat from: rabbits, rodents, birds, and snakes. Coyotes do not like gray wolves or cougars. If gray wolves or cougars live in an area, then coyotes stay away.



Cluster of small, brown zebra mussel shells

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels come from Russia. They were brought to the United States by attaching themselves to the bottom of ships that traveled to Russia. Although originally just in the Great Lakes they have moved through rivers to most of the United States. Zebra mussels get their name from the black and white stripes on their shells.

Zebra mussels are a problem because they are known to clog up pipes and completely cover docks. They also spread very quickly which doesn’t leave much food or space for native clams. These mussels also eat lots of algae which means that local fish lose their source of food. People can help by making sure to drain their boats and let them dry for 5 days to make sure that all remnants of zebra mussels have died off.

Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer is a small green beetle that is originally from Asia. They were brought to the United States by sneaking into packages that were sent from overseas. The emerald ash borer is currently in the northeastern part of the United States, but is slowly moving throughout the rest of the country.

Emerald ash borer are a problem because they move quickly and kill almost all of the ash trees that they come in contact with. This hurts anyone who sells trees, and for the environment that it is in. When ash trees are killed the ecosystem in the area changes which can have a negative effect on species that live in the area. People can help by not transporting firewood. Instead buy firewood in the area that you are in.

Last updated: June 25, 2020

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