The mammals native to the eastern shore, particularly the Wicomico River watershed, are different from the mammals found in the rest of Maryland. Many mammals that used to live here no longer do as a result of human impacts and environmental changes. These changes have also introduced new species. The mammals of the Wicomico River are unique to this area.
Bats (Big Brown, Evening, red, hoary, silver-haired) Beaver Bobcats (Possibly still present) Chipmunk Coyotes Eastern Cottontail Eastern Pipistrelle Foxes (gray and red) Groundhog Marsh Rice Rat Minks (Possibly still present) Mole (eastern and star-nosed) Mouse (Meadow jumping, white-footed) Muskrat Myotis (Little brown and northern) Raccoon River Otter Shrews (Masked, pygym, northern short-tailed,& least) Southern Bog Lemming Squirrel (delmarva, fox, gray, southern and flying) Striped Skunk Virginia Opossum Vole (Meadow, Pine) Weasel (Possibly still present) White-tailed deer
Photo courtesy of Mike Baird
River Otters: River otters are semi-aquatic species that can be found not only in the Wicomico River, but throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Otters are keystone species because they consume many small aquatic species. Without otters to control these populations, much of the aquatic vegetation would be depleted throughout the watershed.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Hubick
Delmarva Fox Squirrels: These squirrels are a subspecies of the Eastern Fox Squirrel. Although eastern fox squirrels are not threatened, delmarva fox squirrels have trouble surviving due to habitat degradation.
Many species have been introduced to the Wicomico River watershed. Although most have not had devastating effects, they still have an impact on the local environment. The introduced mammals include rodents such as black and norway rats, the common house mouse, nutria, and sika deer.
Photo from Joyce Gross
Nutria Nutria is an invasive species that has had devastating impacts on marshes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including the Wicomico River. In 2000, a nutria eradication and marsh restoration project began, dramatically helping ecosystems. Learn more about Nutria here: Nutria Eradication
Photo courtesy of Bill Hubick
Sika Deer This species of deer has been introduced from Japan. They are smaller than White-tailed Deer and are very popular among hunters. They have been seen here in Wicomico as their species is expanding their range throughout the lower shore.
Feral Cats You may see a lot of cats running around your neighborhood or the city. These cats have been released from domestic houses and are a growing problem for our area. They breed rapidly which is a problem for native species that they eat such as birds, small reptiles and even small mammals. To help control this growing problem, stray cats can be brought to the Wicomico Humane Society. To help prevent this problem, cat owners should have their cats spayed and prevent their cats from roaming outside.
Extirpated species are species that used to live in the area but can no longer be found there. Black bears and red wolves are two of the most commonly known native species that are no longer found in this area. Cougars and gray wolves have been extirpated from the area and bobcats, minks, and weasels are believed to be as well.
Photo courtesy of Google Images
Black Bear Black Bears used to roam Delmarva where there used to be vast forests and abundant food sources. Black Bears were hunted and also extirpated so that more homes could be developed.
Photo courtesy of reddit.com
Red Wolf Red Wolves used to roam here and hunt young deer, rabbits, and other small mammals. The Salisbury Zoo is part of the AZA (The Association of Zoo and Aquariums) where they are breeding them in captivity in order to sustain a population.
Learn more about the Chesapeake's mammals, including their current habitats, diets, and life cycles by clicking on the link below.