Over the years, 44 mammal species have been observed in Rouge National Urban Park. While some sightings are quite rare (a single black bear was spotted in the park in 1991), others are much more common. Here are just a few of the mammal species that call Rouge National Urban Park home.
White-tailed deer are one of the larger animals found in Rouge National Urban Park. In the winter, deer often take shelter in the dense cedar forests of the park.
Canada’s national animal, look for evidence of beaver activity along the banks of the Little Rouge River. Gnawed tree stumps are a sure sign that beavers are at work. Beavers can cut down up to 200 trees per year to construct their dams and lodges. In areas with shallow water, a dam is used to create a deeper pond that will not freeze to the bottom in winter. The pond provides protection from predators and year-round underwater access to their lodge. The lodge is where beavers reside, with each lodge housing a single family group consisting of parents, kits and young beavers up to two or three years old.
Coyotes are present in Rouge National Urban Park, though they are generally quite shy and generally try to avoid people. They have a diverse diet that includes small mammals such as rabbits and rodents, berries and wild fruits, insects and carrion (dead animals). They also occasionally hunt in pairs or groups to take down larger animals such as deer. You may find coyote scat along the trail. It looks similar to dog scat but usually contains hair from the animals they prey on.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern gray squirrels are a common sight in the Greater Toronto Area. Despite their name, eastern gray squirrels can actually be gray or black. The black variation is common in Ontario, which is at the northern end of their range, suggesting the darker fur colour may provide an advantage in colder climates.
Muskrats are similar in appearance to beavers, but there are a few key differences that can help you tell them apart. Muskrats are much smaller, with an average weight of only 1 kg compared to the beaver at 16-32 kg and they also have long slender tails as opposed to flat broad tails. Muskrats build lodges, but not dams, and their lodges are mainly made of plants and mud, compared to a beaver’s lodge which is made of sticks and logs. Look for muskrats in restored wetlands throughout the park.
These small but feisty rodents can often be seen scurrying up and down tree trunks or running along branches. Red squirrels mainly eat nuts and the seeds of conifer cones, which they store in a cache to sustain them over the winter. When cones are scarce, they supplement their diet with other foods such as mushrooms, berries, tree sap, insects and bird eggs.
The red fox is a member of the canine family and is about as large as a small to medium size dog. Although red is the most common coat colour, red foxes can also be brown or black. They are typically quite shy and avoid people. The diet of a red fox consists mainly of small mammals such as mice, voles and rabbits, but they also eat birds, eggs, fish, amphibians, fruits and insects. Red foxes are highly adaptable and are found all across Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia, North Africa and Australia.
These small rodents can often be found in forests, where trees and shrubs provide cover from predators. Chipmunks eat a variety of food, including fruit, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, insects and snails. They spend much of their time gathering food and storing it in their underground burrows for the winter.