Species of the Week: The Common Raccoon

Photo by Nata Culhane

 Our species this week is the Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor). Easily recognized, the Common Raccoon boasts a distinctive ringed-tail and facial markings that resemble a black mask. They are also characterized by their extremely dexterous front paws, which allow them to handle food and other objects. If you’ve ever had an encounter with a raccoon at home or on your campsite, you may have noticed that they are omnivorous creatures and will consume almost any food item. They typically prefer corn, fruits, nuts, and crayfish, but their diet depends on season and availability of food items — a raccoon living in the wild would have a much different diet than one living in the suburbs. This is why it’s important to dispose of your garbage properly and to not leave unattended food out while you’re camping, or else you may receive a visit from one of these critters. If you have any funny stories of raccoon visits while camping here at Murphys Point, feel free to share them with us in the comments!

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Species of the Week: The Northern Red-bellied Snake

This week we are going to spend a year in the life of the Northern Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata). This snake is distributed throughout southern Canada and the eastern United States with the northern and southern extremities of their range being Nova Scotia and northern Florida. The Northern Red-bellied Snake is fairly small with adults reaching 8-11 inches in length. Northern Red-bellied Snakes are active from May to October with mating occurring in the spring and early summer. Females give birth to 7-8 live young sometime between late July and early September. Northern Red-bellied snakes are typically found in woodlands, meadows, swamp forests, open fields and edge habitats. Their diet consists of slugs, earthworms, insects, and beetle larvae. They usually spend the day hidden under rocks and emerge during the evening, with activity peaking at night. Over the winter, the Northern Red-bellied Snake spends its time in anthills and rodent burrows. They have many natural predators and are also susceptible to mortality by lawnmowers. This individual was spotted on the main road at Murphys Point Provincial Park.

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Species of The Week: The Wild Turkey

Photo by Adam Kalab

Just in time for the forthcoming holiday, this week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), As you likely know, turkeys are generally known for their large fan of colourful tail feathers, which the adult males (toms) display. These tail feathers display a range of colours including purple, red, green, bronze, copper, and gold iridescence. Despite being among the largest species of birds in North America, turkeys are actually agile fliers. They like to roost up in trees, where they are protected from predators on the ground such as coyotes and humans. Turkeys are known to communicate with each other – their vocabulary consists of 28 distinct calls, each with a general meaning. One of these is the iconic “gobble”, which is generally heard in the spring and early summer, from males announcing their presence to females. Wild Turkeys can be heard (or seen) in the park, particularly in the campgrounds or around the visitor centre. Have you heard any of their vocalizations while visiting the park?

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