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New Jersey Scuba Diving


New Jersey Scuba Diving

Freshwater Mammals

Higher Animals

An assortment of mammals that might be observed in and around the water.

Beaver dam


Freshwater Mammals

Ondatra zibethica

Size: to 14" (body)

Habitat: in and around water

Muskrats sometimes build a water "house", like a beaver, although they don't build dams. Common anywhere there is suitable watery habitat.

Orange teeth ?


Freshwater Mammals

Castor canadensis

Size: 3-4 ft ( total length )

Habitat: in and around water

Famous for their dam-building habits, beavers were once a major ecological force in North America, reshaping a very large proportion of the land to suit themselves. Unfortunately for them, they also became a major economic force - much of the early exploration of the continent was done by fur trappers. Today, beavers are rare, and virtually non-existent in New Jersey, although there are a few colonies.

Beaver lodge

River Otter

Freshwater Mammals

Lutra canadensis

Size: to 30" (body)

Habitat: in and around water

River otters are shy but playful creatures that spend much of their time just splashing around. They don't like human encroachment, and are uncommon nowadays.

Norway Rat ( Brown Rat )

Freshwater Mammals

Rattus norvegicus

Size: 6-8" ( body )

Habitat: everywhere

Sorry to say, but rats are especially common around watery habitats and are excellent swimmers. They are particularly fond of beaches, marshes, ships, docks, and jetties. The next time you go diving at Shark River, take a careful look in the rocks and you will likely see one or two scampering around, dining on old fishing bait and washed-up detritus, even in broad daylight. The Norway Rat is introduced from the Old World, and in most areas today it is more common than the native Black Rat.

In a trap


Freshwater Mammals

Procyon lotor
( literally: pre-dog washer )

Size: 3 ft ( total length )

Habitat: around water

Notes: Raccoons are not really aquatic. They like to live around water so that they can dunk their food. Maybe they're washing it, or maybe they just like wet food, but they will use any water that is handy - a bird bath, swimming pool, or dog dish will do in a pinch.

So what is Procyon lotor doing here? Well, this is my favorite backyard critter, and it's my website. Raccoons are intelligent and mischievous. They can break into your garage and leave paw prints all over the ceiling. ( How? ) They can hold and manipulate objects in their little five-fingered hands, which have little thumbs almost like our own. Unlike most animals, raccoons are heel-walkers, like humans, which gives them a comical ambling gait. Young ones are quite adept tree climbers, and I have seen whole families up in the branches dining on sweet berries. Unfortunately, rabies introduced from the south has decimated the local bandit population, and they are only now beginning to make a comeback.

The little ones are cute, but the adults are not suitable as pets

I believe that when we are gone, raccoons will inherit the earth ( because dogs will die out with us, possums are too stupid, and cats don't care. ) I can imagine what the future raccoon archeologists will say as they dig up New York City: "These hairless apes built a remarkable civilization, but then they all died out. Probably because they didn't wash their food in the creek before they ate it."



I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted



since 2016-09-11