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Exploring maines wildlife 175e5bd3

Exploring Maine’s Wildlife

Southern Maine isn’t just for beach bums. Our 17 million acres of forests come alive during the summer and are teeming with trails to explore, hike, or ride. We get to share these forests with some amazing creatures, and there’s a good chance you might run into some of them during your adventures. Here are just a few of the animals you can expect to find in our state and what to do when you encounter them.


There are nearly sixty species of porcupines worldwide, and they are all sorted into two categories: New World porcupines and Old World porcupines. The New World variety is much smaller, less nocturnal, and can climb trees; some species even spend their entire lives up in the trees. These New World porcupines live in North and South America and are abundant in Maine. 

The name porcupine loosely translates to “spiny pig” in Latin, a silly yet apt name. Their quills can grow up to an impressive three inches long, but they don’t pose much of a threat to humans. They raise their quills when threatened and generally give predators and unlucky humans ample time to back away. Dogs, however, don’t always understand the message and often receive a faceful of these sharp quills. Always make sure to be aware of your surroundings when hiking or camping with your furry friend.


Bobcats are a type of lynx and can be found anywhere between Canada and Mexico, although they have an exceptionally high population in Maine. They have spotted fur and tufts of hair on their face that makes them look like they’re sporting mutton chops. However, their most distinctive feature is their short or “bobbed” tail from which their name is derived. At a glance, they simply look like large house cats, but they are much more dangerous than Mr. Mittens. These predators are fast, agile, and capable of killing prey as large as elk. 

Fortunately, bobcats are not known to attack humans. They tend to flee when encountered in the wild, but it’s still best to keep your distance, especially if you come across a mother bobcat and her cubs. You’ll know you’re in bobcat territory if you come across a scratched-up tree while hiking.


The North American beaver is the largest rodent in North America and the second-largest in the world, only to the capybara. These beavers can weigh between 24 and 71 lbs, and the reason for their significant weight range is due to Bergmann’s Rule. This rule suggests that animals of a certain species that live in colder, northern climates tend to be larger, whereas smaller animals of the same species live in the southern, warmer climates. Given Maine’s colder climate, beavers in our state are gigantic.

Beavers are essential to Maine’s ecosystem. As we all know, beavers build dams, but not everyone knows just how many purposes these dams have. Dams serve as a home and food cache for the beaver, but small animals also take advantage of this shelter during the winter. Ducks and geese often nest on top of dams as they give off heat and are located away from predators. Moose eat the highly nutritious aquatic plants that grow near dams as they overflow and spill into the surrounding land. These dams also prevent flooding and erosion.

-Written by Stacy Oswald & Photo by Laura Baker