North America is home to a lot of different kinds of animals. Some live in the cold north, and some live in the hotter southern part of North America. Let’s take a look at some of the animals you might see living there.
The Moose is the largest member of the deer family. It is larger than a horse.
The Moose has tall thin legs with a fatter body. It has a large head with huge antlers that feel like velvet. It likes to stand in the water in the summertime and eat the lake plants. It is a herbivore, which means it is a plant eater.
The furry skin that hangs from the Moose’s chin is called a bell. Moose do not see well, but they can hear and smell very well. The Moose lives by lakes and streams in Canada.
02. Mountain Lion
Mountain Lions are called by many different names. They can also be called a cougar, puma, catamount and sometimes a panther. They are the largest wild cat in North America.
Mountain Lions have powerful legs and can jump as high as 15 feet, and as long as 45 feet.
They like to eat small animals like mice, beaver, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits and porcupines, and also larger animals like small deer. They are carnivores (meat eaters).
They live in a large area in North America, from Canada down to California, Texas and Florida.
The Bison is also known as the Buffalo. They are very large animals with dark brown fur and a shaggy mane. They have a round hump on their back, thin legs and a tail with a tuft of fun on the end of it. Short black horns stick out of their head.
Although Bison look big and heavy, they can run really fast. Bison can reach speeds of 55 miles an hour when running. Bison mainly feed on grass and plants, but they sometimes like to eat berries. They are herbivores.
Bison are mainly found in the central part of Canada and the United States. They are often hunted by Grizzly Bears, Grey Wolves and Cougars.
04. Polar Bear
In North America, Polar Bears live in the northern part of Canada and in Alaska. (They can also be found in Russia, Greenland and Norway.) They like the icy cold north, and the snow and ice regions.
The Polar Bear is the largest land carnivore in North America. Their favorite food is the Ringed Seal, which is hunts in the cold waters of the north.
Polar Bears are white in color so that they blend in with the snow and ice they live in. They have a thick layer of underfur covering a layer of fat that helps to keep them warm.
They are very good swimmers. The Polar Bear can holds its breath under water for more than a minute.
05. Mountain Goat
Mountain Goats are not really goats at all (although they are closely related) but more of an antelope. They live in the mountains regions from Alaska down through the Rocky Mountains in the United States.
Mountain Goats have cloven hooves with two toes that help them to keep their balance. They are powerful animals and very nimble, and they can jump nearly 12 feet in a single bound.
These animals have a shaggy beard and a long, warm coat to help them keep warm in the cold mountain climates. They are white in color which helps them stay hidden in the snowy mountain peaks. They have sharp pointed horns.
In the winter, Mountain Goats live on twigs and lichen (a type of moss) in the high snowy mountain peaks. In the summer, they come down from the mountains in search of salt, which they need for their diets.
The Beaver is the largest rodent (like rats and mice) in North America. This animal is well known for its big buck teeth and its large flat tail shaped like a paddle. It has brown fur with a thick grey undercoat which helps protect it in all types of weather.
Beavers like to chew and cut down trees to make a damn in the water. They pile tree trunks, sticks, leaves and mud across a stream or lake to stop the water. They then use the area to trap fish to eat. They are very good swimmers.
Beavers make their homes in houses called lodges in the middle of the lake. They enter their lodge from under the water.
Beavers are found mostly in British Columbia and in Canada.
07. Grizzly Bear
The Grizzly Bear is the second largest carnivore (meat eater) that lives in North America. It is different from other bears because of the large hump on its back and its huge front legs. It has long sharp claws on its paws.
The Grizzly Bear gets its name because it has long hairs on its face that are grey or white (looking grizzled). Usually this bear is dark brown, but it can also be lighter or black in color.
Even though the Grizzly Bear is large and heavy, it can run very fast. It has poor eyesight, but has a strong sense of smell and hearing.
Unlike other bears, the Grizzly Bear does not hibernate (sleep in the winter) but stays active all year long.
The Grizzly Bear can be found in western Canada, Alaska, Wyoming, Washington and Idaho.
It is an omnivore (which means it eats both plants and other animals) and is a good hunter. It likes to eat salmon from the rivers, and it eats berries to help it put on fat to keep it warm in the winter.
The Otter is a fun and interesting animal that is a member of the weasel family. It has the thickest fur of all the animals in the world. It uses its thick fur to help keep it warm in winter and in cold water.
Otters are playful and love to swim. They have small front legs and stiff toes which help them to handle food. Their back feet are webbed which helps make them graceful swimmers, but they are clumsy when they walk on land.
Otters eat fish, clams, mussels, crabs, and other sea food. They tend to eat a lot, eating one-quarter of their body weight each day. Otters use tools like rocks and sticks to help them open clam shells. They spend a lot of time cleaning their fur as well so that their fur does not get matted. This helps to keep them warm.
Otters live in rivers, lakes and streams, and even in the Pacific Ocean. You can find Otters from the north in Alaska and on down as far as Mexico.
Elk are part of the deer family. In the Shawnee language the name for Elk is “Wapiti” which means “white rump”. They have white fur on their backside.
The Elk is a large type of deer that can weigh about 700 pounds and it stands about 5 feet tall. They have large antlers on their head. The antlers start growing from small bumps on their head in the spring and continue growing for 6 or 7 months. In the early spring their antlers fall off.
Elks have a 4-part stomach that helps them digest their food, which is made up of grass, shrubs, tree limbs and bark. Elk are fast runners, this helps them escape from danger.
Elk lived in a large part of North America in the past, but today they only live in the western part of North America mostly in the mountain areas.
10. Gray Wolf
The Wolf is the largest wild member of the dog family. Wolves can be many colors, from white to black, but they are most often gray.
Wolves live in groups called “packs”. They work together to hunt, raise their young (called cubs) and protect their territory. They are carnivores (meat eaters).
A male Wolf is always the leader of the pack and is called the alpha male. There are usually about 3 to 7 members that live and work together. They all have their place in order in the group.
The Wolf used to live all over North America, but now their territory is much smaller. They live in the less settled parts of Canada from Labrador to British Columbia, and in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Some Wolves can still be found in the western United States.
Wolverines are the largest members of the Weasel family. They look like small bears and skunks put together.
Wolverines are fierce animals, always willing to fight. They have strong sharp teeth and long claws they use for digging, climbing and fighting. Their paws are wide and furry which helps them keep above the snow in the winter.
Wolverines like to live by themselves. They live in dens made out of snow, or rocks and boulders. They travel long distances in search of food. They are carnivores (meat eaters) but they will also eat plants and berries.
In North America, Wolverines live in the Arctic region of Canada and up north in Alaska.
12. Red Fox
The Red Fox is a pretty little animal that is like a small dog. Although they are called the Red Fox, they can be other colors such as brown, black or silver.
The Red Fox has a sharp pointed face with a slim body that allows it to move quickly and jump. It is known for its bushy tail, which has a white tip on it.
The Red Fox lives on the edge of wooded areas, on the Prairies or grasslands of Canada and the United States. They live in dens that they dig in the sand or soil. The Red Fox always has more than one door to its den in case it has to escape predators.
This animal likes to eat small animals like mice, voles, lemmings or small rabbits. It also likes chickens and is often called the “chicken thief” by some farmers. The Red Fox will also eat plants and berries.
Raccoons are known for the “black mask” markings on their face, and for getting into a lot of trouble. They like to get into mischief. They have a bushy tail with rings on it. Their paws are like little hands.
Racoons are scavengers. They love to eat fish, but will eat almost anything. These cute aniamls love to get into garbage cans in the cities. They are also known for constantly washing their food with their front paws.
Racoons are good climbers. You can find Racoons all over Canada and in the United States, usually in wooded areas, swamps and marshes. You can also find them in many cities.
These animals make a variety of sounds, including whistling, chattering, clicking its teeth, snarling and growling. They have sharp teeth and will bite if you get too close to them.
The Porcupine is in the rodent family and has sharp needles or Quills’ on its back. The quills help to defend themselves against other animals. The quills usually lay flat on the Porcupine’s back and when the Porcupine is threatened, the quills stand up. They have soft fur underneath the quills.
Porcupines have large front teeth. They like to eat the bark from trees and stems. They have been known to eat the paddles from canoes when they get into a campground. They also eat fruit and leaves, and the buds of plants in the springtime. They love to eat salty things.
There are Porcupines that live in other parts of the world, but the North American Porcupine is the largest.
Porcupines are good climbers and you can often find them in trees. They generally live in dens in rock piles, caves, or even tree trunks.
The Skunk is a small black animal with two white stripes on its back and a single white stripe on its nose. It has a long bushy tail.
The Skunk has a bad reputation because they smell so bad. Skunks spray a very nasty smelling liquid from sacks underneath their tail when they are threatened. This helps to keep predators away from them. Skunks know about their own bad odor because they will not spray if they are in a small confined area or in their own dens.
Skunks like to live in open areas of mixed forests and grasslands. They will live in dens that other animals have made. In city areas, Skunks will live under porches, in basements or even in garden sheds. Skunks hibernate (sleep the winter away) like bears.
The Skunk can be found all across Canada and into the United States, as far down to Mexico.
The large and small animals of North America are very interesting to study and learn about. Each animal can be very different from other animals found in the rest of the world. From the Bison that lives on the ranges to the Polar Bear that lives in the far north, North America makes a great home for all of these animals.