Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The presence or signs of 42 mammals is known, and 36 species have been verified by actual sightings. Visitors to the refuge may see many of these animals, or at least see signs indicating their presence such as muskrat houses, beaver cuttings, burrows, tracks or droppings.
Hiking trails and gravelled roads take you to many wildlife habitats. Binoculars and a field guide with pictures will help you to correctly identify the wildlife you see. Remember, wild animals are shy and wary. If you are quiet and patient, you may be rewarded with interesting sightings.
Please stop by refuge headquarters and share your wildlife findings with the staff.
COMMONLY SEEN MAMMALS
Mice, Voles and Shrews. These small mammals are ever present in ground litter and vegetation of woods, meadow and marsh. They seldom expose themselves to view, but can be detected by rustling sounds as they move through dry leaves, by tracks in mud, or by droppings and tunnels in the grass. Their abundant populations supply much of the food for predators.
Eastern Chipmunk. Chirps and stripes identify this small ground squirrel. The best place to find "chippie" is in open woodlands with plenty of stumps and logs. It digs burrow systems of 30 feet or more.
Red Squirrel. Named for its rusty red color, this small tree squirrel is about half the size of a gray squirrel. Its shrill chatter greets every intruder that comes within its territory.
Eastern Gray Squirrel. Most active in early morning and evening, these tree squirrels are found in hardwood forests. Their leaf nests are usually evident. Some gray squirrels are actually black in color.
Ground Squirrels. The Franklin and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel are commonly seen dashing for their burrows; the thirteen-lined in open areas, and the Franklin in borders between grassland brush. Both squirrels have a shrill whistle. The thirteen-lined gives a high trill; the Franklin's call is remarkably clear and musical.
Woodchuck. In the early morning and evening you will see this stout relative of the squirrels feeding on vegetation close to its burrow. The rest of the day "ground hog" will sun in its doorway or sleep underground.
Muskrat. Most often seen swimming with only its head out of water, the "marsh rat" only leaves its wet habitat to migrate to new territory. Its favorite food is cattail roots and shoots, and it builds its house from cattail leaves.
Beaver. Obvious beaver signs are stick and mud dams across streams, large conical houses of mud and sticks at the edge of a lake and pointed stumps of trees near water.
Porcupine. Clumsy and dull-witted, "Porky" feeds on buds and bark of trees. It ambles slowly across the ground and climbs still more slowly through trees following the scent of new food. Easily approached, a porcupine is well protected from most animals by its quills.
Snowshoe Hare. Brown in summer and white in winter, the snowshoe hare is named for its big furry feet which enable it to "snowshoe" across deep winter snow. It is found in brushy swampland.
Striped Skunk. An adult skunk weighs about 4 1/2 pounds. Favorite foods are insects, berries, mice, eggs and frogs. It can spray its scent up to 15 feet, but will do so only as a last resort for protection.
Mink. Active throughout the year, usually in or near water, mink weigh up to three pounds. They are bold, tireless wanderers and will not hesitate to attack animals larger than themselves.
Whitetail Deer. Deer stand about 3 feet high at the shoulder. Their coats are reddish-tan in summer and blue-gray in winter. The whitetail feeds on a wide variety of vegetation, but buds and twigs are the winter mainstay. Deer are most often seen along roads or edges of meadows in early morning or evening.
THE OTHER MAMMALS
The rest of the mammals on Rice Lake Refuge are less commonly seen or are known from the signs or droppings they leave behind. Be alert and you may detect several of these animals. Find their names on the complete list of all refuge mammals.
COMPLETE MAMMAL LIST
Masked Shrew (Sorex cinereus)
Arctic Shrew (Sorex arcticus)
Pygmy Shrew (Microsorex hoyi)
Shorttail Shrew (Blarina brevicauda)
Starnose Mole (Condylura cristata)
Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus)
Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
Black Bear(Ursus americanus)
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Shorttail Weasel (Mustela erminea)
Least Weasel (Mustela rixosa)
Longtail Weasel (Mustela frenata)
Mink (Mustela vison)
River Otter (Lutra canadensis)
Badger (Taxidea taxus)
Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
Coyote (Canis latrans)
Red Fox (Vulpes fulva)
Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
Lynx (Lynx canadensis)
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
Woodchuck (Marmota monax)
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Citellus tridecemlineatus)
Franklin Ground Squirrel (Citellus franklinii)
Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Least Chipmunk (Eutamias minimus)
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger)
Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)
Beaver (Castor canadensis)
Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)
White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)
Gapper's Red-backed Vole (Clethrionomys gapperi)
Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius)
Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)
Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)
Whitetail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Moose (Alces alces)
Refuge Manager Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge Route 2, Box 67 McGregor, Minnesota 55760 Telephone: 218/768-2402This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1976. Mammals of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated.This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1976. Mammals of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Unpaginated. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.govricemaml.htm (Version 22MAY98).