Due to its location, Acadia National Park harbors wildlife found only in northern latitudes, mostly in Canadian boreal ecosystems. Martens, Fishers, American River Otters and Moose are found only in a few states within the continental United States and are found within the park.
Mammals, in general, are difficult to spot. The trails of Cadillac Mountain, the granite shores of Mount Desert Island, forest ponds and shorelines offer plenty of possibilities to spot mammals.
The animals below are large mammals, which are easily identified and most likely to be spotted on a visit to Acadia National Park.
With an approximate weight of up to 44 lb, the American Beaver (Castor canadensis) is the world’s second-largest rodent (Capybara is the largest).
Beavers are closely associated with bodies of water and have flat paddle-shaped tail, webbed hind feet. They have a nictitating membrane that allows them to swim on the surface and underwater.
They can seal their nostrils and ears while submerged.
Beavers were hunted to near extinction by fur traders. It was just a change in fashion and preferences that changed the hunting pressure and survival of the species.
They build dens and engineer dams. A dam is built by piling up branches and then eating away entrances and internal chambers.
They build dams that accumulate water that is deep enough to prevent it from solid freezing.
The estrange looking porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is actually a caviomorph rodent. This means that they are related to Capybaras and guinea pigs.
The Porcupine is one of the largest North American rodents. They are brownish-black in color and have the face of a rodent. But perhaps the most distinctive feature is its coat of quills.
Porcupines are good tree climbers and feed on fresh buds and fruit. They are prone to fall off trees as they often try to reach fresh buds on outer branches.
An interesting fact about porcupines is that they do not get infections when their own quills get stuck in its skin. This is because, unlike other animals, they have antibiotics in their skin.
The quills are modified hair used mostly for self-defense. When a potential predator approaches, a porcupine contracts its muscles causing the quills to stand up. Quills will get stuck on the attacker provoking pain when trying to dislodge them.
The Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus), gets its name from the large size of its hind feet. The hare has developed furry soles to protect its feet from freezing temperatures and is also adapted for walking without sinking into the snow.
The Snowshoe Hare has brown fur during the summer months that help it blend with the environment. Its fur turns white during the winter months when snow is present.
They are largely nocturnal and often feed in small groups eating grass, bark and other vegetable matter. They are rather prolific for having up to four litters per year.
The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is another champion of adaptation. They occupy habitats ranging from hot deserts to cold temperate forests including urban environments.
It is an opportunistic predator with a diet as diverse as the habitats it uses.
Bobcats eat fruit, lizards, snakes, large insects, small mammals, and birds. They are also known to attack poultry and even young deer.
Bobcats are solitary and maintain territories, which they mark with urine and feces as well as claw marks.
They are hunted in regions where they attack poultry and other domestic animals but their populations have proven resilient and appear to sustain healthy numbers.
The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is one of the most widespread mammals, not only in the United States but also worldwide. Foxes not only have been able to adapt to habitat changes but also have taken advantage.
They have even adapted to urban habitats.
The color of their fur is typically red but some individuals are reddish-gray often confusing an observer.
The red fox eats just about anything but favor small mammal and birds.
They are normally found in pairs or in family groups. Young foxes stay with their parents for a few years and help raise their younger siblings until they become independent and form a new mated pair.
Red foxes have a long history of interactions with humans and are well represented in human folklore. They can be encounter anywhere in Acadia National Park.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are the highly versatile and widespread relative of wolves. They are not only adapted to changing habitats but have expanded their original range to regions they were never known to occur.
Coyotes use urban habitats and take advantage of resources resulting from human activities.
They are known as a trickster in human folklore and, in part due to often killing livestock, there is a negative attitude towards coyotes.
Coyotes move about as lone individuals or as a pack of several individuals. They have a generalist diet consisting of small animals and also fruit and carrion.
Coyotes are closely related to wolves and mate with these producing viable offspring (Coywolves). The DNA analysis of North American wolves reveals that most wolves in North America contain varying amounts of Coyote DNA.
American Black Bear
The American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) is by far the more numerous bear in North America. It has adapted you just about every habitat throughout the country.
Where they are more numerous, the Black Bear favors forested areas, but they use other habitats as well.
Black Bears do many things well. For instance, they can eat just about anything and adapt well to the presence of humans. They are notorious for taking advantage of food disposed of by humans.
Black bears, like other bears, mark their territories by marking trees and logs using their claws and teeth.
Bears are not a common sighting in Acadia National Park.
The Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is yet another champion of adaptation. They eat berries, insects, and just about anything they are able to catch.
Raccoons are regarded as very smart animals able to find and remember solutions to simple problems.
They originally inhabited forest areas in North America but due to their remarkable adaptability, they do great in urban habitats.
Raccoons have intricate social behavior. Groups of related females share a territory. Also, male-only groups join forces to defend territories against other males not part of the group.
Raccoons have a life expectancy of 2 to 3.5 years.
Their facial mask, hunch back, and ringed tail are the most identifiable features on a Raccoon.
Northern River Otter
The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensisis) is found only in North America. They are associated with creeks, lakes, coastal shorelines, swamps and other bodies of water.
Otters normally move through in pairs or family groups in a hectic and playful manner.
They eat fish, mollusks, small mammals, and birds, although they have been known to attack and drown small dogs.
Adult individuals can weigh up to 40 lb.
They dig intricate burrows with multiple entrances, one of which is right at the water level. They den in these burrows and females have their litters of up to 6 young in them.
Unlike foxes and mink, populations of the North American River Otter appear to be in decline due to pollution of the bodies of water they live and the disappearance of their prey base.
The American Mink (Neovison visonis) a champion of adaptation. They are associated with bodies of water but expands to areas away from the water.
Minks do equally well in pristine and impacted or modified habitats.
They feed mostly on small mammal, fish, crustaceans, and birds. They will even attack and eat poultry.
Minks were heavily hunted for their fine fur and their numbers declined. After the demand for fur ended, their population numbers recovered.
Minks hold year-round territories that overlap with individuals of the opposite sex. Conversely, territories have minimum overlap with individuals of the same sex.
They are solitary and come in contact only during the breeding season.
Male and females dig separate burrows with a 4-6-inch wide entrance and 10-14 feet deep. Females take care of the young alone.
The American Marten (Martes americana), also known as Pine Marten, is largely confined to Canada and the northern portion of the US’s border states. It is also found in the mountain areas of some western States.
They are well adapted to life in the snow. Males are larger than females.
Martens favor mature coniferous and mixed habitats and are affected by ongoing forest destruction and degradation. Their numbers have declined.
Adults are generally found alone for most of the year but will engage in social life with members of the opposite sex during the breeding season.
Martens are opportunistic feeders and to cover large areas in search of small rodents, fish, invertebrates, and berries.
The Fisher (Pekania pennanti) is closely related to Minks and Martens, both of which also occur in Acadia National Park.
Fishers are also known as Fisher Cat despite the fact that they look like a Mink or a Marten (Mustelid family).
Fishers are largely boreal animals. They occur mostly in Canada and Alaska, with a limited occurrence in the upper northeastern states. In the mountains of western US, Fishers range further south.
Fisher forage for food on the floor of forested areas. They eat just about anything they can catch as well as fruit, mushrooms, and other plant matter.
Interestingly, Fishers seldom eat fish despite their name.
One remarkable fact about Fisher is that they are among the few animals that can prey on porcupines.
Like Martens and Mink, Fishers also have fine fur. They were heavily hunted for their pelt. In fact, they were driven to regional extinctions.
It was only the decline in demand for Fisher Pelt in the 1920s that saved the Fisher from further decline.
With protection measures in place, Fishers have rebounded, however, they are a rare sighting in Acadia National Park.
The moose (Alces alces), is the largest and heaviest ungulate (deer family) in North America.
They favor boreal and broadleaf forests in temperate and subarctic climates.
While moose are found mostly in Canada, the State of Maine has the largest concentration in the USA. However, moose are a rare sighting.
Moose are solitary animals throughout most of the year. Only cows with their young are found together. They become more social during Autumn which is the mating season.
Males engage in fights for the right to access females in estrus. During this time males are overly aggressive and can charge at people.
- Burt, William Henry; Grossenheider, Richard Philip (Illustrations) (1976). A Field Guide to the Mammals. North America north of Mexico. Peterson Field Guides (Third ed.). Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.