Upper Great Lakes biome
The forest of the Great Lakes region support many species of plants animals that must survive with the changing seasons. Some animals have adapted by migrating, hibernating, or changing their behavior to deal with the harsh conditions of a Northern winter.Raccoons
have omnivorous diets meaning they eat both animal and plant material. Raccoons are nocturnal (active at night) and during the day, they will sleep in tree cavities, burrows, and man-made structures. Babies are born around April or May and remain with their mothers until the following spring. Raccoons have highly dexterous forepaws that can climb, dig, grip, and even work doorknobs! They can also rotate their back feet 180 degrees to help them climb and descend trees. Contrary to popular belief, Raccoons do not wash their food in water but are thought to be separating uneatable parts from parts they can digest. Raccoons will readily eat food with dirt on it.Red foxes
eat small animals, carrion, fruit, and vegetables. Foxes are usually active at night and will spend it roaming their territory looking for food. Cubs are born in March or April in an earthen den or crevice and by fall the young foxes are off on their own to establish their own territory. The red fox has a thick fluffy tail so that when curled up, they can cover their face, paws and legs- allowing them to stay warm when it is cold outside! When a fox attempts to catch a meal, they will leap high into the air and plunge vertically with their front feat aimed at their prey. A startled rodent will jump upward, making the catch quicker for a fox.Moose
- a member of the deer family, Moose eat plants material and live in the northern U.S and Canada. They have two layers of fur, and long legs for wading through snow and water. They can’t sweat though so they will wade in water to cool off.
Blanding’s turtle- The species is lives around the great lakes with some isolated populations on the eastern coast of the U.S and Nova Scotia. The most distinguishing feature is the bright yellow undersides of their necks. They eat crayfish, worms, snails, fish and carrion. Blanding’s turtles have a partially hinged plastron (bottom part of shell, pictured left). This means that when they hide in their shell, a part of the plastron can pull up to protect their head and front legs. These turtles are an endangered species in areas of their native habitat! This is because marshes are under threat by development and pollution and their eggs are common victims to predation.
Bats displayed here are insect eaters but there are also bats that consume nectar, fruit, blood, and even fish! Bats are nocturnal and use echolocation for hunting food. They send out clicks in an extremely loud, high frequency that humans cannot hear. The sound vibrations bounce of objects and allow them to pinpoint where things are. Bats can eat thousands of insects each night so they are very useful in pest control!
Western Fox snake- Fox snakes use Mimicry, which is when an animal imitates another animal so that predators will be less likely to eat it. Fox snakes look very similar to a Massasauga- a venomous snake that is dangerous to humans. When scared, fox snakes will sometimes flick their tails quickly in grass or leaves, which can sound like a rattlesnake!
Porcupine- The quills of the Porcupine are modified hair which cover most of the back and are loosely attached to the skin for easy detachment. The quills also have tiny scales at the tips that work like a fishhook, catching whatever they pierce.
Hummingbirds are the smallest type of bird in the world. Their wings can beat up to 200 times a second and they must drink their own body weight in nectar every day.
Beavers- are very well adapted for swimming. They have webbed hind feet, transparent eyelids that work like goggles, waterproof fur, closable ear and nostril openings and they can utilize 75% of the oxygen in their lungs (compared with 15% in humans). A beavers’ teeth never stop growing throughout their lives. They are important because, when they build their dams, they create marsh/wetland habitat for many other animals to live in. A beaver’s unusual tail helps it swim, store fat, sit up and make alarm noises.
American Black bear- are very adaptable animals, often coming in close proximity to humans. They are excellent tree climbers and although they are mostly herbivores (plant eating), Black bears will occasionally eat carrion- so don’t play dead if you encounter one!
American crows are extremely intelligent and have been known to make and use tools, work together, problem-solve, and recognize themselves in mirrors!