This uncommon shrew has a fringe of stiff hairs on the outer side of each hind foot that is a direct adaptation to its aquatic lifestyle. Air bubbles trapped by its fur give this animal great buoyancy but only allow it to be submerged for about 15 seconds at a time.
The coyote is an extremely secretive animal and is rarely seen in Pennsylvania. Several canids brought to the Section of Mammals for identification in recent years have proven to be coyotes from various parts of the Commonwealth. There have also been several apparent coyote–dog hybrids, also called coydogs, presented for identification. Determinations are based mostly on examination of the skulls.
This species has been extirpated (disappeared) from Pennsylvania since about 1892. Stories about wolf kills persisted through the 1940s.
It is reported that this mammal can climb trees.
The den of the red fox is frequently a converted woodchuck burrow that takes advantage of the multiple exits created by the original inhabitant. Red foxes will dig their own dens or make use of hollow logs as well.
Although this mammal was thought to have disappeared from the state around 1900 due to loss of forest habitat, two specimens have been collected in the latter half of the century. The Pennsylvania Biological Survey classifies its status as undetermined at present.
This animal recently has been reintroduced in Pennsylvania. Tracking of the released individuals indicates that the fisher are doing well.
In summer, the ermine is dark brown above and white washed with yellow below. In the winter, it turns completely white except for a black tip on the tail.
Several sources indicate that weasels have a reputation for killing more than they can eat at a given time. This is probably a mistaken impression from observations of weasels moving a kill to its den. However, the animal may move a carcass to its burrow to feed the young or to cache for future meals.
This is the smallest carnivore in Pennsylvania with a total length of only eight inches and weight of only two ounces!
Like the skunk and other mustelids, the mink possesses anal scent glands that produce a pungent odor when the animal is stressed.
Since 1946, there are four records of the badger in Pennsylvania, all in counties of southwestern Pennsylvania adjacent to more uniformly suitable habitat in Ohio.
This relative of the striped skunk is known to occur only in Fulton and Bedford counties in south-central Pennsylvania. It is the smallest skunk, averaging only 1-3 lbs. As with the striped skunk, the patterns of black and white vary greatly among individuals.
This animal is well adapted for aquatic life with a streamlined body, thick coat and oily underfur, webbed feet, a muscular, rudder-like tail, ears and nose that can be closed when submerged, and strategic placement of the eyes.
Although reports of sightings in Pennsylvania have persisted to the present day, virtually all have been undocumented. The most recent mountain lion kill in Pennsylvania occurred in 1967 and has been determined to be a released captive of a southern subspecies. The last known Pennsylvania mountain lion was killed in the 1856 in Susquehanna County. This specimen was preserved as a body mount that has recently been refurbished and is exhibited on Penn State’s main campus.
Although there are records of lynx in the Commonwealth, it is believed that all are cases of this predator temporarily expanding its range due to low prey densities further north.
This species is rarely observed because of its shy and elusive nature. Bounty was paid on bobcats in the Commonwealth between 1810 and 1938. Its numbers are currently considered to be low, and concern for the impact of development in regions of preferred habitat have caused it to be designated “vulnerable” by the Pennsylvania Biological Survey.