Mammals of Cedar Creek




Nine representatives of the Sciuridae (Squirrel Family) are found at Cedar Creek.  Most common is the Gray Squirrel  (Sciurus carolinensis).  It is abundant in upland oak forests.  Less common is  the Fox Squirrel  (Sciurus niger).  This large yellow-bellied species is most at home in open woodland.  The Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is confined to pine plantations but occasionally makes forays into deciduous hardwoods.
The Eastern Chipmunk  (Tamias striatus) is common around human habitations.  *The Least Chipmunk (Eutamias minimus) has not been collected here.
The 13-lined Ground Squirrel  (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) is acommom burrowing of roadsides and weedy fields.  It frequently falls prey to bullsnakes.  Franklin's Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus franklinii) is uncommon to absent most years.
The Woodchuck (Marmota monax) is a common woodland inhabitant and a pest of gardens.
The Southern Flying Squirrel  (Glaucomys volans) is a common nocturnal hole-nester of woodland.  *The Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) may occur here as well.

The sole representative of the Pocket Gopher Family at CCNHA is the Plains Pocket Gopher  (Geomys bursarius).  It is abundant in abandoned cropland at Cedar Creek.  Kathleen Zinnel did extensive radio-telemetry work on this species.  It caches Agropyron and other roots on which it feeds during the winter.  The genus Thomomys occurs in western Minnesota, but is not found here.

*The Plains pocket Mouse (Perognathus flavescens) may possibly occur here.

Beaver (Castor canadensis) are common inhabitants of the creek as well as several ponds and Fish Lake.  Sometimes instead of stick lodges they excavate bank lodges leaving little sign of their presence save for ditching in shallow waters to access the lodge.  They preferentially fell Trembling Aspen for its bark but will also take Paper Birch, Juneberry, and even Pin Oak.

The most common of the native mice and rats are the White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus).  These species are ubiquitous in field and woodland.   The Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) can be fairly common in some years in mesic meadows.  The Red-backed Vole (Clethrionomys gapperi) is a fairly common inhabitant of woodland.
The Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) goes through population boom and busts in the Area's cattail marshes where it constructs middens of Typha stems.  Also suspected of taking many water lily bulbs before they open.
*Possible species in this family include:  Reithrondontomys megalotis (Western Harvest Mouse), Microtus ochrogaster (Prairie Vole), and Synaptomys cooperi (Southern Bog Lemming).  Believe I saw the latter in the swamp near Cedar Bog Lake.

Representing the Old World mice and rats are the Norway Rat  (Rattus norvegicus) and  the House Mouse (Mus musculus).  Neither are very common here, and in fact are only likely to be found at such ramshackle homesteads as the Quanset Barn and Dead Animal House.  White-footed mice are our most frequent household invaders.

The Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius) is an uncommon inhabitant of mesic meadows.

The Porcupine (Erithizon dorsatum) is an occasional visitant to the Area.  It is a common species of conifer forest in NE Minnesota.