Deep inside the Northwest Trek forest, there’s another forest – a habitat filled with native woodland animals right next to the trail. Find agile wolverines, curious skunk and badgers near wetland animals like river otters and beavers.
Brother-and-sister wolverines Rainier and Ahma were both born at Northwest Trek from different litters. Now they’re back home and together again, getting along famously in a newly-expanded habitat that includes plenty of trees to climb and boulders to explore.
And they’re great to watch. The largest land species in the weasel family, wolverines have evolved in harsh Northwest mountain areas to be tough survivors: agile climbers, strong diggers, and afraid of nothing.
WHAT: Dark brown to almost black, with an upper body covered in barbed quills between guard hairs, and stiff bristles below. It has four clawed toes on the forefoot and five on the hind foot. WHERE: Across North America. SIZE: Length 2-3.5 ft.; height 1 foot; weight up to 33 lbs. EATS: Plants and inner bark of trees. BABIES: Breeding in late fall. After a 6-month pregnancy the female gives birth to one porcupette weighing 12-20 oz. STATUS: Common. FUN FACTS: When threatened, a porcupine protects itself by climbing or fleeing.
If cornered, it erects its quills, turns its rump toward the source of danger and rapidly lashes out with its tail. The quills are not thrown or shot but must come in contact with skin or other objects to detach.
WHAT: Skunks have a bold white head patch dividing into a V-stripe extending to their tail over a black coat. They have small ears, long fur and large bushy tails. WHERE: Meadows to forests across North America. SIZE: Length 2 ft.; height 6-8 in.; weight 4-10 lbs. EATS: Invertebrates, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, eggs and plants. BABIES: Breeding from February-March. After a 9-week pregnancy, females give birth to 4-7 young weighing about ½ ounce. STATUS: Common. FUN FACTS: Striped skunks are left alone because their black-and-white coloring sends a clear message about their scent even to color-blind animals. When alarmed, a skunk will stamp its front feet, turn its back on the threat, raise its tail and fire caustic scent accurately up to 12 feet.
Skunks den up and become semi-dormant in cold areas, often together in “snuggles” of one male and several females.
WHAT: You can recognize a raccoon by its ringed tail and black facemask. Its grizzled coat varies in color depending on region. WHERE: Southern Canada and most of the U.S. SIZE: Length 3 ft. (including tail); height 9-10 in.; weight 15-18 lbs. EATS: Anything they find or capture, especially aquatic animals. BABIES: Breeding from January-February. After a 60-day pregnancy the female gives birth to 2-5 kits, weighing 2-4 oz. STATUS: Common. FUN FACTS: Raccoons are very curious animals, handling and investigating almost everything they discover.
Their extremely sensitive forepaws are their main tool for analyzing potential food, often from water. This dexterous manipulation can look a little like they are washing their food.
WHAT: River otters are members of the weasel family, adapted for water living. They have streamlined bodies, short legs with webbed hind feet and a smaller skull. WHERE: Fresh and salt water that doesn’t freeze throughout North America. SIZE: Length 3.5-4.5 ft. (including tail); height 7-9 in.; weight 15-20 lbs. EATS: Fish, small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates. BABIES: Breeding from June-July. After an 8-month pregnancy the female gives birth to 2-7 young, weighing less than ½ pound. STATUS: Secure. FUN FACTS: Otters are among the most playful of mammals: they chase, slide and play with objects.
Near den entrances, otters often twist tufts of grass together to use as scent stations to mark territory or attract mates.
Unlike other members of the weasel family, otters are sociable, living in family groups and sometimes traveling with another family.
WHAT: Beavers are large rodents, with blonde to black fur. They have small ears and eyes, and a long, horizontally flattened, paddle-shaped and scaly tail. WHERE: Forested areas with fresh water across North America. SIZE: Length 4 ft.; height up to 12 in.; weight 40-60 lbs. EATS: Leaves, bark, stems and roots. BABIES: Breeding from January-February. After a 3-month pregnancy, females give birth to 2-3 kits that weighs about one pound. STATUS: Secure. FUN FACTS: Beavers are communal animals that live in family groups. When kits reach 2 years old they are driven off.
They are active anytime, but usually nocturnal around humans. When alarmed a beaver will slap its tail on the surface of the water, creating a loud warning for others.
Beavers are engineers, second only to humans in their ability to alter their environment. They work together to construct elaborate dams and lodges to create ponds or wetlands.
WHAT: A short-legged, heavy-bodied carnivore with a flattened
appearance and distinctive white stripe from nose to back. WHERE: Dry, open country SIZE: Length 2 –2.5 ft.; weight 15 to 20 lbs. EATS: Small mammals, reptiles, birds, invertebrates and occasionally plants. BABIES: Breeding June-July. After a 7-week pregnancy, females give birth to 2-7 young, which weigh less than ½ lb. STATUS: Secure. FUN FACTS: Badgers excavate. They dig to find prey, to escape danger, and to survive winter temperatures.
They’re known for solitary behavior and aggressiveness. When cornered badgers will snarl, expose their teeth, and sometimes snap their jaws together.
Although not true hibernators, they will den up during cold weather.
Just as humans get excited for a full plate of food- so do animals. Some of Northwest Trek’s woodlands and wetland animals were recently given their own Thanksgiving feast. Their dinner plate: a cornucopia. Skunk Skunks are omnivores and eat a variety of foods seasonally, including vegetable material and up to their weight in insects every week. For Milton the skunk’s feast, keeper Wendi Mello gave him a mixture of blueberries, pears, yams, omnivore and insectivore chow and a handful of mealworms. Mealworms are his favorite food, said Mello. She added that Milton also likes cranberries (how festive!) and eats …
Brrr! You can feel the chill in the air as the temperature drops. You’re likely pulling out your winter coats, if you haven’t already! Many of the animals at the wildlife park also have their winter coats ready and are well-prepared for the colder weather. You know that wildly famous Frozen song “Let it Go”? “The cold never bothered me anyway”- it’s definitely the theme song of these animals. Wolverines Wolverines are made for the cold- and our wolverines Rainier and Ahma are no exception. Wolverines are well-adapted for winter living, with extremely dense fur, large snowshoe-like paws that allow …
To an outsider, it didn’t look unusual. As two keepers stood still inside the Forest & Wetlands habitat at Northwest Trek, they watched an old beaver slowly make his way into the pool. Sniffing everywhere, he walked slowly but steadily. Then he swam with front paws and whiskers outstretched to feel for the underwater entrance to his lodge before slipping inside. “There you go!” called one keeper encouragingly. R.B. Beaver, affectionately known as “Papa” for his role in the Northwest Trek beaver family, had just successfully shown that he could live a comfortable, capable life – without his eyesight. Eye …