Beavers are rodents – one of the largest on the coast, and we have a sizeable population here! They weigh between 12 – 26 kg and range in sizes of up to 1 m long (not including their tail). Throughout my youth, I’ve loved to fish the island’s ponds. Many times, I was able to observe beavers going about their daily work. They truly are wonderful animals to watch! Read More….
Big Brown Bat
The big brown bat has a vast range, that extends from northern South America to southern Canada. In British Columbia, it is found on Vancouver Island, the coastal mainland north to the Bella Coola River Valley, and into the interior. Its northern-most habitats in BC, are in the Prince George and the Peace River region. Read More….
The Black Bear range covers all of Canada from Newfoundland & Labrador to British Columbia, as well as much of the US, and parts of Mexico. Males are about 170 cm in size – about 10% longer than females. Because black bears hibernate, they must gain a tremendous amount of fat reserves in the fall. Read More….
Black Tail Deer
There are 3 types of deer in British Columbia. The largest is the mule deer, found on the mainland. The smaller, Sitka deer, inhabits the north coast, and Haida Gwaii (the former Queen Charlotte Islands). Black-tailed deer, another small deer species, reside on the south coast, Vancouver Island, & the Gulf Islands. Read More….
Brown rats are the scourge of many a farm and town. They are also known as Norway rats. They live in every town on the BC coast, and they are one of the most serious mammalian pests on the planet, spoiling grain, carrying disease, & destroying homes – yet they remain one of the most successful species. Read More….
The cougar is the largest cat on Vancouver Island. Unlike other big cats, though, the cougar can only make a purring sound. You will never hear one in the forests – a fact that Hollywood seems to be unaware of! Cougars inhabit various ecosystems: from sea level to mountain tops, and from deserts to deep, dark rain forests. They are very abundant on Vancouver Island. Read More….
The dusky shrew can be found throughout Vancouver Island, with its range stretching from Alaska to Mexico. It lives in a wide variety of habitats, including grasslands, damp meadows, swamps, and along rivers & streams. It is most common in areas of dense cover, and least seen in open expanses. Read More….
The gray squirrel was first introduced to Vancouver Island about 25 years ago and has spread across the southern Island since then. They are now starting to show up on the North Island. It is larger than the red or Douglas Squirrels and is usually gray or black in color. Read More….
Being omnivores, they feed on a variety of plants and berries including roots or sprouts and fungi as well as fish, insects, and small mammals. Normally a solitary animal, the grizzly congregates alongside streams and rivers during the salmon spawn. Every other year females produce 1 4 young who are about the size of rats, weighing less than a pound. Read More….
The Vancouver Island marmot is Canada’s most endangered mammal. These marmots can grow to lengths of 70 cm, and weigh up to 7 kg. They have a short snout, with a black, flattened nose. Their eyes are small, but they have great hearing, in spite of their small ears. Read More….
The house mouse is a real problem! This mouse can live and thrive under a variety of conditions, in and around our homes. House mice will invade homes & barns, and eat or contaminate food meant for us, our pets, & livestock. Their constant gnawing can cause severe damage to homes and other buildings & structures. Read More….
Little Brown Bat
The little brown bat is one of the more commonly seen bat species on Vancouver Island. We are losing many of our little brown bats, though, to a nasty fungus that attacks them while they hibernate. This species of bat is very small, with an overall size of 7 – 9 cm, and weighing up to 14 g. They are brown and can have a wingspan of up to 20 cm. Read More….
Long Legged Bat
Long Legged Bats truly have long legs – and also big feet! Their tails are also quite lengthy, but their ears are short. These bats can be found in parts of southern Alaska, in the western portion of Canada, on Vancouver Island, and all the way into the northern part of Mexico. Read More….
The west coast mink is a common sight on the shores of the Pacific Northwest coast. It is mostly seen around water and is an incredible swimmer. It feeds on small aquatic animals – crabs & fish, as well as birds, and small mammals. It is not uncommon, though, to see them kill a much larger animal. Read More….
Muskrats inhabit swamps, marshes, lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. The Pacific Northwest coast has a large population of muskrats. Where you see beavers, you will most likely see muskrats. They weigh up to 3 kg, are up to 65 cm long, with a tail that reaches up to 28 cm in length. Read More….
Pine Martens depend on voles and mice, a primary food source, found over much of Vancouver Island The second important source of food is berries, especially blueberries, followed by small birds, eggs, & vegetation. Martens will also eat squirrels, and if food is scarce enough, they will occasionally revert to cannibalism. Read More….
Raccoons are able to live in a wide range of habitats. The only apparent requirements are a source of water, food, and a protected area to build dens. The best habitats are hardwood swamps, dark forests, fresh & saltwater marshes, farmland, and urban homes & attics. This highly adaptable animal is also a very common sight in the towns & cities of Vancouver Island. Read More….
The red squirrel is grey to rusty red, and white or grayish-white underneath, with its tail being similar in color to its back fur. The coat is noticeably duller in summer. Douglas’ squirrels are abundant in any type of forest (coniferous, pine, mixed, or hardwood), and are often around buildings. They inhabit much of Canada, most of BC, and all of Vancouver Island. Read More….
Roosevelt elk are the largest member of the ungulate family – even larger than the elk found on the mainland! Roosevelt elk inhabit Vancouver Island in great herds. We have transplanted 3 small herds of elk to BC’s mainland, as part of plans to create breeding herds there. Read More….
Short Tailed Weasel
The short-tailed weasel, ermine, or stoat resides across Canada, including the high Arctic islands, & the BC coast, and can be found at elevations of 2,500 meters. This carnivore’s small face is only as wide as its long, thick neck. Its lengthy, slender body, including its tail, averages only 270 mm for males (the tail measuring 75 mm!). Read More….
The gray wolf is the largest member of the dog family. They have a shared ancestry with domestic dogs and coyotes. Scientists consider the gray wolf to be the species from which most other wolf subspecies evolved. They communicate using a wide range of howls, barks, and whines. Read More….
Although there are over 400 species of mammals living in North America, there are only 36 species living on Vancouver Island. The Island is still an exciting place to look for animals, though! To increase your chances of seeing wildlife, you can look for clues when you are out & about.
Watch for things like dome-shaped clumps of grasses seen in our beaver ponds, they are likely built by muskrats. Piles of used pine cones are leftover from feeding squirrels. Flattened grass where a deer spent the night. Telltale signs of animal life are everywhere!
Keep an eye out for tracks that passing creatures leave behind, in order to help identify animals living in your area. Their scat provides indications as to their diet. Vancouver Island is home to large animals like Roosevelt elk and wolves; smaller ones, like short-tailed weasels and gray squirrels; and wee little ones like the Keen’s mouse and the hoary bat. They all have their place and are quite interesting to observe. So, get out & take a walk on the wild side, and see what’s in your area!