A bobcat lying on a log in the forest
Bobcats are shy, elusive, and well camouflaged, so they are not often seen by Parkway visitors.

Peter Hamel photo

The southern Appalachian mountains are home to more kinds of mammals than any other area of eastern North America, with more than 70 species documented along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Almost every visitor will see some of the more noticeable, including white-tailed deer, gray squirrels, and the ever-present groundhog along the roadsides.

The black bear is rarely seen by park visitors, but is increasing in numbers in both Virginia and North Carolina. Beavers are also making a comeback in the region after their numbers were decimated by the fur trade in past centuries. The most opportunistic mammals—raccoons, opossums, and skunks—are common in campgrounds and picnic areas. Other animals, such as the northern flying squirrel, are threatened or endangered.

All are protected here. Please observe wildlife safely and responsibly.

Download a copy of the parkway's Mammals Checklist


Mammal Checklist

Key to Abbreviations

The following codes refer to the abundance of an animal found along the Parkway and not necessarily to the likelihood of seeing it.

C - COMMON: Species likely to be in suitable habitat.
UC - UNCOMMON: Species not frequently found even in suitable habitat.
R - RARE: Species not likely to be found.
L - LISTED: Any species federally or state listed as Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern.

Order Didelphimorphia

Family Didelphidae

  • Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana)–(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Woodlands and thickets near a water source.

Order Lagomorpha

Family Leporidae

  • Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Farmlands, natural clearings, forests, and wetlands.
  • Appalachian Cottontail (Sylvilagus obscurus) –(NC-R, VA-R) Habitat: Dense cover of thickets and higher elevation woods.

Order Soricormorpha

Family Soricidae

  • Northern Short-tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Woods and clearings with dense ground cover and well-drained soil.
  • Least Shrew (Cryptotis parva)–(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Brushy fields, wetlands, and woods.
  • Masked Shrew (Sorex cinereus)–(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Moist dense low cover.
  • Long-tailed Shrew (Sorex dispar) –(NC-L, VA-R) Habitat: Near rocky streams in high elevation forests.
  • Smoky Shrew (Sorex fumeus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Moist forests, bogs, and wetlands.
  • American Pygmy Shrew (Sorex hoyi) –(NC-R, VA-UC) Habitat: Higher elevation deciduous forests, wetlands, and fields with dense understory.
  • Southeastern Shrew (Sorex longirostris) –(NC-UC, VA-R) Habitat: Wet to dry habitats with dense ground cover.
  • Southern Water Shrew (Sorex palustris punctulatus) –(NC-L) Habitat: Along edges of mountain streams.

Family Talpidae

  • Star-nosed Mole (Condylura cristata) –(NC-UC, VA-UC) Habitat: Moist meadows, bogs, and wetlands.
  • Hairy-tailed Mole (Parascalops breweri) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Sandy loam soils under various forests, meadows, and fields with plant coverage.
  • Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Moist loamy or sandy soils.

Order Chiroptera

Family Vespertilionidae

  • Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii rafinesquii) –(NC-L) Habitat: Roosts and hibernates in caves/mines and trees near water. Roosts in bldgs and bridges.
  • Virginia Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) – (NC-L) Habitat: Roosts and hibernates in caves, particularly in limestone areas.
  • Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Roosts in structures, caves, and tree hollows, particularly pine, oak, beech.
  • Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Roosts in deciduous forests behind loose tree bark, particularly willow, maple, and ash.
  • Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Roosts among foliage, usually in deciduous trees.
  • Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus) –(NC-UC, VA-UC) Habitat: Roosts solitarily in dense vegetation and in tree cavities at the edge of clearings.
  • Eastern Small-footed Myotis (Myotis leibii) –(NC-L, VA-R) Habitat: Caves during winter;trees, bridges, buildings, or under rocks during warmer months. Hibernates in caves or mines.
  • Little Brown Myotis(Myotis lucifugus) –(NC-R, VA-UC) Habitat: Along streams and lakes. Forms nursery colonies in trees or buildings during summer. Hibernates in caves and mines in winter.
  • Northern Long-eared Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) – (NC-R, VA-R) Habitat: Roosts in hollow trees and buildings during warmer months. Hibernates in caves or mines.
  • Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) –(NC-L) Habitat: Roosts in hollow trees, under bark, snags, and structures.
  • American Perimyotis (Perimyotis subflavus) –(NC-UC, VA-UC) Habitat: Open woods near water. Hibernates in caves or mines.

Order Carnivora

Family Canidae

  • Coyote (Canis latrans) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Agricultural fields or forested regions.
  • Common Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Deciduous forests and brushy woodlands at lower elevations.
  • Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Mixture of forest and open fields.

Family Felidae

  • Bobcat (Lynx rufus) – (NC-UC, VA-C) Habitat: Woodlands or near agricultural areas if rocky ledges, wetlands, or forested tracts are present.

Family Mephitidae

  • Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Open woodlands and fields.
  • Eastern Spotted Skunk (Spilogale putorius) – (NC-R, VA-R) Habitat: Covered thickets, woods, riparian hardwood and shrubbery.

Family Mustelidae

  • Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis) –(NC-C, VA-UC) Habitat: Streams, lakes, and wetlands with sufficient vegetative cover.
  • Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata) – (NC-R, VA-UC) Habitat: Woodlands, thickets, open areas and farmlands near a water source.
  • Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) – (NC-UC, VA-R) Habitat: Fields, open woodlands, brushy or rocky areas.
  • American Mink (Vison vison) -- (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Forested areas near rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, or wetlands.

Family Procyonidae

  • Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Deciduous or mixed forests, developed areas, and agricultural fields.

Family Ursidae

  • American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Heavily forested areas with thick ground vegetation and an abundance of fruits and nuts.

Order Artiodactyla

Family Cervidae

  • Elk (Cervus elaphus) – (NC-L, VA-E) Habitat: Mid to high elevation meadows, and grassy balds (Reintroduced to Great Smoky Mountains National Park).
  • White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Forested areas and open spaces such as agricultural lands and grasslands.

Family Suidae

  • Feral pig/hog/swine (Sus scrofa) – (NC-UC, VA-UC) Habitat: Diverse forests with heavy brush and some openings. Non-native.

Order Rodentia

Family Castoridae

  • American Beaver (Castor canadensis) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Lakes, wetlands, ponds, streams, and rivers.

Family Cricetidae

  • Rock Vole (Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis) –(NC-L) Habitat: Rocky areas, forests or fields at higher elevation.
  • Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Fields and grasslands.
  • Woodland Vole (Microtus pinetorum) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Moist deciduous or mixed forest.
  • Southern Red-backed Vole (Myodes gapperi) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Moist forests, especially mixed coniferous-deciduous, with an abundant supply of logs, stumps, roots, rocks, and twigs.
  • Southern Appalachian Woodrat (Neotoma floridana haematoreia) – (NC-UC) Habitat: Rocky places in mixed or deciduous forests.
  • Allegheny Woodrat (Neotoma magister) –(NC-L, VA-R) Habitat: Rocky places and abandoned buildings in mixed or deciduous forests at higher elevations.
  • Golden Mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Floodplain forest with dense understory and abundant vines.
  • Common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Wetlands,lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams.
  • White-footed Deermouse (Peromyscus leucopus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Forests, farm country, and brush lands.
  • North American Deermouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Deep forests and open fields.
  • Eastern Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys humulis) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Weedy fields, broom-sedge meadows, marsh edges, and other damp open areas.
  • Hispid Cotton Rat (Sigmodon hispidus) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Fields, overgrown pastures and farmlands.
  • Southern Bog Lemming (Synaptomys cooperi) –(NC-R, VA-UC) Habitat: Bogs and wet meadows.

Family Dipodidae

  • Woodland Jumping Mouse (Napaeozapus insignis) –(NC-UC, VA-UC) Habitat: High elevation moist forests with herbaceous cover.
  • Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius) – (NC-R, VA-UC) Habitat: Early successional fields, weedy fields, and woodlands with herbaceous ground cover.

Family Muridae

  • House Mouse (Mus musculus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Farmhouses, barns, and fields. Non-native.
  • Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Farm buildings and farmland. Non-native.

Family Sciuridae

  • Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus) –(NC-L, VA-L) Habitat: High elevation forests, mainly spruce-fir and northern hardwood ecotone.
  • Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) – (NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Deciduous, mixed, and coniferous forest.
  • Woodchuck (Marmota monax) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Pastures, roadsides, and overgrown fields.
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests.
  • Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) –(NC-R, VA-UC) Habitat: Open deciduous and mixed forests with grassy understory.
  • Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Deciduous forests with rocks, stumps, and fallen logs.
  • Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) –(NC-C, VA-C) Habitat: Favors conifer forest such as pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock, but can occur in mixed forest.

Extirpated Animals

Species that were formerly found along the Parkway but are no longer found here.
  • Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus virginianus) –Habitat: Spruce-fir and other high elevation forests.
  • Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) –Habitat: Extensive forests and other remote areas.
  • Eastern Cougar (Puma concolor couguar) –Habitat: Wide variety of habitats away from humans and development.
  • Fisher (Pekania pennanti) –Habitat: Spruce-fir forests
  • American Bison (Bos bison) –Habitat: Woodlands, forest openings, and open valleys.
  • North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) –Habitat: High elevation conifer-hardwood forests into brushy lands.

Last updated: January 30, 2018

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