Last week’s Notes from the Trail was all about fish found in Lake Superior. As promised, this week we will focus on the other animals that live in and around Lake Superior. Animals that spend time in and around Lake Superior are mammals like river otters and beavers, amphibians like wood frogs, and many different types of birds.
The mammals that spend most of their time in the water of Lake Superior are river otters and beavers. Remember, mammals are warm-blooded animals that have hair or fur. River otters are extremely playful and social animals. Otters are often found frolicking in the water alone or in groups. Otters are part of the mustelid family—the same group of animals as weasels, badgers and pine martens. They have streamlined bodies that allow them swim very well. They weigh 11 to 30 pounds. River otters spend some of their time on land too. Did you know that they make dens along the shore with an above-ground entrance and an underwater entrance? You can learn more about river otters in our Wilderness Library.
The beaver is part of the rodent family. They are large brown furry rodents with small eyes, small rounded ears, large orange teeth, and a large flat, scaly tail. They weigh between 44 to 60 pounds. Beavers are like lumberjacks. They will chew the base of a tree until it falls down. They love to eat the bark and leaves from the trees that they fell. Their favorite trees are aspens but they will also eat birch, alder, willow, and mountain maple. Beavers live in lodges that they build along the shore of a lake, river or stream. Lodges are made out of mud, grass and branches. The entrance to a beaver lodge is underwater. You can learn more about beavers in our Wilderness Library.
Amphibians and Birds
One of the few amphibians found near Lake Superior is the wood frog. Amphibians are cold-blooded animals like frogs, toads, newts and salamanders. Did you know that wood frogs are specially adapted for cold northern winters? Wood frogs can survive almost freezing in the wintertime. Their bodies create a natural antifreeze that allows them to survive while they hibernate in the winter. You can learn more about wood frogs in our Wilderness Library.
Birds are warm-blooded feathered animals that lay eggs. There are many types of birds found in and around Lake Superior. Some of the birds are cormorants, gulls, loons, osprey and bald eagles. Cormorants are large black sea birds. They can be found in the ocean and on freshwater lakes and rivers. They build stick nests in trees, on cliff edges and on the ground on islands. They usually can be found in large groups called colonies. Cormorants like to eat fish. You can learn more about cormorants in our Wilderness Library.
I hope you enjoyed learning about a few of the animals that live around Lake Superior. Do any of these animals live near you? Do any different animals live near the lakes and rivers where you live?
Dave’s Dilemma: Help us decide what equipment we need when we switch from sailing to canoeing.
Cast YOUR Vote: Help us figure out what to study as we begin to paddle the path of the voyageurs.