• Very large rodent, weight 30-60 lb.
  • Herbivorous, with huge incisors, dental formula 1-0-1-3/1-0-1-3.
  • Incisors used for gnawing trees and nibbling bark, the beaver’s main food.
  • Large trees gnawed down to get at upper branches for food and for building material for dam and lodges.
  • Dams across streams made of sticks packed with mud. A pond forms behind the dam, providing protection for the beavers and easing transport of branches and trees as the area floods. Beavers often are not welcome in cities because they cut down trees and flood property by damming streams.
  • In addition to large incisors, their flat tail is a well-recognized character. The tail is used for steering in the water and to slap the water making a loud “kerplunk” that warns other beavers that danger is near.


  • about 2-3 lbs, the size of a large guinea pig
  • herbivorous rodent, dental formula 1-0-1-3/1-0-1-3
  • Large "beaver-like" incisors are used to cut vegetation and nibble trees to get to the inner layers of bark.
  • Fairly common in moist forests and second growth, but rarely seen because by day they stay in underground burrows that are dug with sharp front claws.
  • Look for burrows and especially inspect openings for wear that indicates that an Aplodontia is home.
  • The extensive tunnel systems have many openings to the outside and include chambers for sleeping, food storage, and a bathroom.
  • They venture out at night to eat and gather vegetation that they store in burrows or stack near their burrow openings for drying.

Black-tailed Deer

  • Large hoofed mammal, weight 200-350 lbs.
  • Herbivore with incisors only in lower jar, dental formula 0-0-3-3/3-1-3-3.
  • Canines in line with incisors, so it looks as if they have four incisors on either side.
  • Deer use incisors to clip twigs, leaves and vegetation by biting against the roof of their mouth.
  • By day, deer hide in wooded or brushy areas, especially in ravines in cities such as Tacoma. At dusk or dawn they wander into yards and gardens to browse on flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs.
  • Look for netting or fences that people put up to prevent deer from eating their plants as evidence that deer are in the vicinity.
  • Black-tailed Deer is a subspecies of the Mule Deer that is common throughout western US.

Townsend's Vole

  • Rodent, size up to ¼ lb, about the size of a very large mouse.
  • Herbivorous, dental formula 1-0-0-3/1-0-0-3.
  • Voles live in moist fields and highway edges throughout the Puget Sound region.
  • Grazers on grass and succulent vegetation such as clover and buttercups near above-ground runways that look like tunnels in the grass.
  • Many voles end up as food for other animals such as hawks, owls, herons, coyotes and cats.

Townsend's Chipmunk

  • Size up to 4 oz, a small squirrel.
  • Seed-eater, dental formula 1-0-2-3/1-0-1-3.
  • Diet includes nuts, seeds, insects, fruit, and mushrooms.
  • Large cheek pouches used for gathering and carrying food that is stored in underground den.
  • Chipmunks run with tail straight in the air and usually are on the ground but can climb easily.
  • In or near wooded areas, as at Pt. Defiance.

Townsend's Mole

  • Size up to 3/8 lb, largest mole in North America.
  • Diet earthworms and some insects, dental formula 3-1-4-3/3-1-4-3.
  • Common in moist soil, especially river bottoms, wooded areas, even city lawns throughout the city and county, but rarely seen because they are underground burrow dwellers.
  • Dig burrows with long claws on large front feet.
  • Mounds of excess soil from tunnels are visible evidence of moles.
  • Foraging tunnels close to surface, while permanent tunnels and chambers used for living quarters deeper.
  • Extremely sensitive to vibration felt through the ground, eyes and ears reduced and of limited use.
  • Fur short and velvetlike to aid in slipping through earth as they tunnel.

Norway Rat

  • Size up to 3/4 lb; big, husky, long-tailed rodent.
  • Omnivorous, dental formula 1-0-1-3/1-0-1-3.
  • Diet seeds and nuts and anything humans eat; take advantage of bird feeders, compost piles, and garbage.
  • Extremely successful, found almost everywhere in association with humans.
  • Incisors used to gnaw entry holes into houses and other buildings where they can be rather destructive; once inside, they nest and store food in walls, crawl spaces, attic, kitchen cabinets and pantries and create a general mess.


  • Weight about 25-35 lbs, medium to large dog size.
  • Carnivore, dental formula 3-1-4-2/3-1-4-3.
  • Diet small to medium-sized animals, also fruits and insects.
  • Canines long for grabbing, holding and killing small animals.
  • Common in wooded and wild areas within cities and throughout countryside in North America, usually nocturnal in cities.
  • In a wild place, try squeaking by sucking on your finger and remain quiet and don’t move. If there are coyotes around they will come to investigate what they think is a small animal in distress. If you see a long-haired dog with a bushy tail, it is most likely a coyote.

Western Gray Squirrel

  • Weight 1-2 lb, a large squirrel.
  • Seed-eating rodent, dental formula 1-0-1-3/1-0-1-3.
  • Diet acorns and other nuts and seeds.
  • Once common around southern Puget Sound after clear cutting of old growth, but now limited to dry oak forests south of Tacoma.
  • The gray squirrel usually seen in the Tacoma and the Puget Sound lowlands is the introduced Eastern Gray Squirrel, which is smaller and usually reddish about the face, back and tail, the tail looks scraggly compared with the bushy tail of a Western Gray Squirrel.
  • The Western Gray Squirrel recovery plan can be found here. The plan contains a full review of natural history, status, and plans to bolster populations and habitat.

Harbor Seal

  • Weight 100-300 lb, up to 6 ft long and with flippers.
  • Carnivore, dental formula 3-1-4-1/2-1-4-1.
  • Forage by swimming with hind feet arrange like a fish fin, diet fish, crabs, squid and many other sea creatures.
  • Molars used to crunch clams and mussels.
  • Commonly seen resting out of water on log booms, docks, piling and beaches in Puget Sound.
  • Keep watch from ferries for the head and upper back above the water and then a dive showing their back when disturbed.
  • Watch for flocks of birds in Puget Sound for signs of a seal. The birds might be scavenging bits of food as a seal shakes a large fish to rip off bite-sized pieces.


  • Weight 20-30 lbs or about 2-3 times the size of a house cat
  • Carnivore or omnivore, dental formula 3-1-4-2/3-1-4-2.
  • Diet any small animal they can catch, plus insects, fruits and vegetables.
  • This masked bandit of the night can be found throughout region in the country and city. Can you think of why they have a mask?
  • In wild areas hollow trees are used for dens, while urban Raccoons may use convenient human dwellings.
  • In addition to their mask and ringed tail, Raccoons are known for sensitive front paws that allow foraging by touch, and they can easily catch fish, tadpoles, crayfish and insects under water.


Virginia Opossum

  • About 2 1/2-3 1/2 lbs or house cat size.
  • Omnivore, dental formula 5-1-3-4/4-1-3-4.
  • Opossums were introduced from eastern US initially to California, then through range expansion or additional introductions are now common in Washington west of the Cascades.
  • Usually nocturnal and solitary, during the day opossums may hide in attics and under porches so you might see one around your house.
  • Climbs easily and uses its prehensile naked tail like an extra hand, especially in trees.
  • The young spend 3 months in a pouch like that of a kangaroo but backward-pointing (both are marsupials).
  • “Playing possum” is a phrase that refers their habit of acting dead when threatened.

Sea Otter


Siberian Tiger

North American Porcupine