Taum Sauk Mountain, located in Missouri, is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including mammals, birds, and insects. According to Missouri’s State Park Service, there are hundreds of animals on Taum Sauk Mountain, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike.
The park’s wooded areas and rocky glades provide a beautiful, solitary experience for hikers, with a series of trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
In this article, we will discover 13 animals that can be found roaming atop Missouri’s tallest mountain, providing an insight into the rich biodiversity of this unique ecosystem.
13 Animals Roaming Atop Missouri’s Tallest Mountain
In January 2023, a wild African cat was found wandering around a farm in Ava, Missouri. The cat was later identified as a female, 30-pound African serval cat. The farmer cared for the cat, feeding it and taking it to a local vet, before contacting the authorities and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas for help.
The refuge group rescued the cat, which was sick and had frostbite, and provided it with the necessary care. Servals are wild cats native to the more temperate regions of Africa and are the only surviving members of their genus.
While the origins of the cat found in Missouri are a mystery, it is likely that it once belonged to a backyard breeder or Savannah Cat breeder and escaped or was released intentionally. The recently passed Big Cat Public Safety Act bans the private ownership of big cats, including servals, in the United States.
Black bears (Ursus americanus) are one of the animals that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. Missouri is home to a small number of black bears, which are the only bear species found in the state.
Black bears are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods, including berries, nuts, insects, and small mammals. They are generally shy and avoid humans, but can become dangerous if they feel threatened or if they become accustomed to human food.
Visitors to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park are advised to take precautions to avoid attracting bears, such as storing food in bear-resistant containers and properly disposing of trash. The Missouri Department of Conservation also provides resources for reporting bear sightings and controlling nuisance bears.
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are medium-sized cats native to North America, and one of the animals that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are solitary and nocturnal animals, most active during the darkness of night, and tend to hunt most during dawn and dusk.
During the day, bobcats sleep and rest in dens in the form of a rock crevice or hollow tree, with one individual having a number of dens within its home range.
Bobcats are highly territorial animals and mark their ranges with scents from their urine and feces and distinctive claw marks on trees to alert others of their presence. They are carnivorous and mainly hunt small mammals like rabbits, hares, and mice, along with birds close to the ground and the occasional lizard.
During the harsher winter months, they are also known to hunt larger animals, including deer, and will also feed on fresh carrion.
Bobcats are found from southern Canada down through the USA to northern Mexico, and they live in a wide variety of areas, including all types of forest, coastal swamp, desert, and scrubland.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are another animal that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban and suburban areas.
Coyotes are members of the dog family and are closely related to wolves and domestic dogs. They have light gray or dull yellow upperparts and a bushy tail.
Coyotes are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods, including small mammals, birds, insects, and fruits. They are known for their distinctive howl, which they use to communicate with other coyotes and to establish their territory.
While coyotes are generally not a threat to humans, they can become a nuisance if they become accustomed to human food or if they begin to prey on livestock.
The Missouri Department of Conservation provides resources for controlling nuisance coyotes and preventing conflicts with humans. Coyotes are also known to play an important role in suburban forest fragments, influencing the occupancy of prey.
Gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are another animal that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are medium-sized canids, with a distinctive salt-and-pepper gray coat, reddish legs and chest, and a black stripe on their tail.
Gray foxes are the only member of the dog family that can climb trees, using their strong, hooked claws to climb up and down. They are primarily nocturnal, but may forage during the day.
Gray foxes are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of foods, including small mammals, birds, insects, nuts, berries, and lizards. They are also known to raid garbage cans in search of food.
Gray foxes mate in February or March, and the gestation period lasts about 52 days, with 3 to 7 kits born in April or May. The young open their eyes at 10 days and will venture out of the den after about 4 weeks. At 10 weeks, they are usually weaned, with the father providing solid food for the entire family.
Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are another animal that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are medium-sized canids, with a distinctive reddish-brown to reddish-yellow coat.
Red foxes are extremely vocal and commonly give short yaps or barks, followed by a single squall. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods, including small mammals, birds, insects, fruits, and nuts.
Red foxes are also known to scavenge for food and will eat carrion. They are solitary animals, but may form pairs during the breeding season.
The breeding season typically occurs in late winter, with the gestation period lasting about 52 days. The female gives birth to a litter of 4 to 6 kits in a den, which may be located in a burrow, hollow log, or other sheltered location. The kits are born blind and helpless, and are cared for by the mother until they are able to fend for themselves.
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are another animal that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are medium-sized deer native to North America, Central America, and South America, and are generalists that can adapt to a wide variety of habitats.
White-tailed deer are herbivores and feed on a varied diet, including leaves, twigs, corn, acorns, and other nuts, depending on the season and their habitat. In the summer, they typically inhabit fields and meadows, while in the winter, they eat the buds and twigs of woody plants.
White-tailed deer are tan or brown in the summer and grayish-brown in the winter, with white on their throat, around their eyes and nose, on their stomach, and on the underside of their tail. Male deer, called bucks, are easily recognizable in the summer and fall by their prominent set of antlers, which are grown annually and fall off in the winter.
White-tailed deer are an important game animal in Missouri, and the state has a regulated hunting season for them.
Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are another animal that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are native to North America and are one of two domesticated birds native to the New World.
Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards, and seasonal marshes. They can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available.
Wild turkeys are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet, including leaves, twigs, corn, acorns, and other nuts, depending on the season and their habitat. In the early 1900s, wild turkeys were on the brink of extinction, with only about 200,000 left.
Through conservation efforts over the past century, with funds derived from the Pittman-Robertson Act, and thanks to sportsmen and women, there are now approximately 6.5 million wild birds in the United States.
Timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are venomous pit vipers that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are one of the most common venomous snakes in the eastern United States and are known for their distinctive rattles, which they use to warn potential predators.
Timber rattlesnakes are skilled climbers and have been discovered in trees at heights of more than 80 feet. They are typically found in a variety of habitats, including mountainous or hilly forests, hardwood or pine forests, swamps and river floodplains, lowland cane thickets, and agricultural fields.
Timber rattlesnakes are ambush predators and primarily eat small- to medium-sized rodents, such as mice, shrews, chipmunks, and squirrels, as well as birds, lizards, and amphibians.
While timber rattlesnakes can harm humans if they are bitten, they typically only bite in defense.
Copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) are venomous pit vipers that can be found in Missouri and other parts of the eastern United States. They are a member of the subfamily Crotalinae in the family Viperidae.
Copperheads are fairly large, heavy-bodied snakes with large, triangular heads and elliptical pupils. They have a pale brown to light tan body, often with a pinkish tint, and their bodies are patterned with dark, hourglass-shaped crossbands, wider at their base and narrow across the back.
Copperheads have heat-sensing “pits” located between the eyes and nostrils, hence the name “pit viper”. Copperheads are carnivorous and feed on a variety of prey, including rodents, salamanders, frogs, lizards, small snakes, and insects.
While copperheads are venomous and can harm humans if they are bitten, they typically only bite in defense.
Eastern box turtles
Eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina) are a subspecies of the common box turtle and are one of the most commonly seen turtles in the wild.
They are native to the eastern part of the United States, occurring as far north as southern Maine and the southern and eastern portions of the Michigan Upper Peninsula, south to northern Florida and west to eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Eastern box turtles are terrestrial and slow crawlers, with a high-domed, rounded, hard upper shell, called a carapace. They are slow to mature and have relatively few offspring per year, making them particularly susceptible to anthropogenic, or human-induced, mortality.
Eastern box turtles are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including leaves, twigs, corn, acorns, and other nuts, depending on the season and their habitat. They are usually found near ponds, fields, meadows, and woodlands throughout the eastern half of the United States.
Eastern box turtles are popular pets, and sometimes when people do not want them anymore or they move, they release the turtles into the wild.
Broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus) are small to medium-sized hawks that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are a member of the Buteo genus, a group of stocky, long-winged, and short-tailed hawks that includes the more widespread Red-tailed Hawk.
Broad-winged hawks have relatively short and broad wings, pointed at the end, which have a tapered appearance unique to the species. They are brown above with a barred rufous chest and have white underwings edged in black, with a conspicuous white band on their spread tail.
Broad-winged hawks are migratory, breeding in dense forests of the eastern and central United States and Canada, and migrating to tropical highlands from southern Mexico to South America each winter. They raise one brood of chicks each summer, with pairs beginning to build their nest in late April through mid-May.
Pileated woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) are large, mostly black woodpeckers that can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain in Missouri. They are the largest confirmed extant woodpecker species in North America, with the possible exception of the ivory-billed woodpecker.
Pileated woodpeckers are native to North America and inhabit deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific Coast. They are skilled climbers and have a long neck and a triangular crest that sweeps off the back of the head.
Pileated woodpeckers are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods, including insects, fruits, and nuts. They are also known to visit backyard suet feeders.
Pileated woodpeckers are known for their loud, flicker-like calls and their habit of excavating deep, rectangular holes in trees in search of insects. They also excavate nesting cavities, usually around 50 feet up in large dead trees, and both sexes hammer out the site.
1. What is Taum Sauk Mountain?
Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest point in Missouri, located in the St. Francois Mountains.
2. What kind of animals can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain?
Taum Sauk Mountain is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, eastern box turtles, broad-winged hawks, and pileated woodpeckers.
3. Are there any venomous snakes on Taum Sauk Mountain?
Yes, both timber rattlesnakes and copperheads can be found on Taum Sauk Mountain.
4. Are there any precautions visitors should take when hiking on Taum Sauk Mountain?
Visitors to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park should take precautions to avoid attracting bears, such as storing food in bear-resistant containers and properly disposing of trash. Visitors should also be aware of the presence of venomous snakes and take appropriate precautions.
5. Can I hunt on Taum Sauk Mountain?
Hunting is allowed on Taum Sauk Mountain during the regulated hunting season for certain game animals, including white-tailed deer.
6. Can I keep a wild animal I find on Taum Sauk Mountain as a pet?
No, it is illegal to keep wild animals as pets in Missouri. Additionally, wild animals can carry diseases and may be dangerous to humans.
7. Are there any endangered species on Taum Sauk Mountain?
While there are no federally endangered species on Taum Sauk Mountain, some of the animals that can be found there, such as the timber rattlesnake, are considered to be species of conservation concern in Missouri.