Kentucky’s tallest mountain is home to a diverse range of animals that have adapted to the rocky terrain and changing climate. In this article, we will discover 13 animals that roam atop Kentucky’s tallest mountain.
From the elusive black bear to the colorful pileated woodpecker, these animals play an important role in the ecosystem of the Appalachian Mountains. We will also explore the natural environment of Kentucky and how it has been impacted by human activities.
13 Animals That Roam Atop Kentucky’s Tallest Mountain
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are indigenous to western North America and are named for their ears, which are large like those of a mule.
They are the larger of the three Odocoileus species on average, with a height of 80-106 cm (31-42 in) at the shoulders and a nose-to-tail length ranging from 1.2 to 2.1 m (3.9 to 6.9 ft) . The tail may comprise 11.6 to 23 cm (4.6 to 9.1 in) . Adult bucks normally weigh 55-150 kg.
The pelage of mule deer ranges from dark brown gray, dark and light ash-gray to brown and even reddish. The rump patch may be white or yellow, while the throat patch is white. The white tails of most mule deer terminate in a tuft of black hairs, or less commonly in a thin tuft of white hairs.
Mule deer are known for their uniquely large ears resembling those of a mule, earning them the species name hemionus meaning ‘half-mule’.
Slender Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus)
The slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus attenuatus) is a legless lizard in the Glass Lizard subfamily (Anguinae) that is endemic to the United States. The species has two subspecies: the western slender glass lizard and the eastern slender glass lizard.
Slender glass lizards have yellow to brown bodies with six stripes and a middorsal stripe. White specks on the middle of the lizard’s scales may sometimes form light stripes.
The western slender glass lizard reaches an average of 0.66 m (26 in) and can be found in woods or dry rocky hillsides, in grass or the burrows of small mammals.
The eastern slender glass lizard, O. a. longicaudus McConkey, 1952, can attain a total length of 0.56 m (22 in) to 0.91 m (36 in) and is found throughout Georgia.
Slender glass lizards are often mistaken for snakes because they have no legs. The species is closely related to collared lizards. Its tail comprises two-thirds of its body length and can be voluntarily detached or shattered into several pieces.
Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear species that is endemic to North America. It is the smallest and most widely distributed bear species on the continent.
Black bears are usually black in color, particularly in eastern North America, but they can also be brown, cinnamon, or blonde. Some populations in coastal British Columbia and Alaska are creamy white or bluish gray.
Black bears are omnivores and their diet varies greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but will leave forests in search of food, and are sometimes attracted to human communities due to the immediate availability of food.
Black bears are solitary animals and roam large territories, though they do not protect them from other bears. The species has 16 subspecies based on minor differences in appearance and DNA.
Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a mammal native to North America and is the largest of the procyonid family, with a body length of 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in), and a body weight of 5 to 26 kg (11 to 57 lb). The species has grayish fur that mostly consists of dense underfur, which insulates it against cold weather.
Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic, and their diet varies depending on season and location. They consume more invertebrates than vertebrates and may eat plants such as fruits, nuts, and acorns.
Raccoons are known for their dexterity and flexibility, with toes that can grab, pull things apart, and hold things. They are also good climbers and can go down a tree backwards or face first.
Raccoons are found across southern Canada, throughout most of the United States, and into South America. The species has adapted well to human-dominated landscapes, which has contributed to their expansion in numbers and range.
Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
The Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) is a small, striped rodent found in eastern North America. Here are some characteristics of the species:
– Reddish-brown fur on its back and sides and white fur on its stomach
– Two white stripes bordered by black on its sides and one black stripe on the center of its back
– Light stripes above and below its eyes
– Pouched cheeks that it uses to store and carry food
– Found in southeastern Canada and most of the northeastern United States south to Mississippi and Virginia and west to North Dakota and Oklahoma
– Occurs in the Northeast, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, the northern parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut, New York State north of Albany, and the northern two-thirds of Pennsylvania
– Lives in open deciduous forests and at the edges of woodlands
– Can also be found in bushy areas and in rocky areas like walls near
– Occurs in mature hardwood and mixed wood forests in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York
– Extremely vocal and produce a variety of chips, trills, and calls to alert others to the presence of predators or for territory defense
– Known to be one of many hosts for the parasitic larvae of Cuterebra botflies
The Eastern Chipmunk is a very common and well-known rodent that is comfortable living around people.
Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
The Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is a tree squirrel that is native to eastern North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Medium-sized tree squirrel with no sexual dimorphism in size or coloration
– Dorsal surface ranges from grizzled dark to pale gray and may have cinnamon tones
– Ears are pale gray to white and its tail is white to pale gray
– Underparts are gray to buff
– Melanism is common in the northern portions of the range and albinism is rare in all areas
– Native to eastern and midwestern United States, and to the southerly portions of the central provinces of Canada
– Introduced species in a variety of locations in western North America, including western Canada and the city of Calgary
– Lives in deciduous and mixed forests, as well as urban and suburban areas
– Can be found in parks, campuses, estates, and residential areas
– Omnivorous and feeds on nuts, seeds, buds, and flowers of trees
– Plays an important role in seed dispersal
– Buries food in winter caches using a method called scatter hoarding and locates these caches using both memory and smell
– Preyed on by many predators, including American mink, other weasels, red foxes, bobcats, grey wolves, coyotes, lynx, and birds of prey, such as red-tailed hawks
– Communicates with each other by making sounds and body movements, such as tail flicking
– Sounds warning calls to alert other squirrels when predators are nearby
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is a common and well-known species that is comfortable living around people.
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a species of fox that is found throughout Europe, temperate Asia, northern Africa, and North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Reddish fur across the face, back, sides, and tail
– Grayish-white throat, chin, and belly
– Black feet and black-tipped ears that are large and pointy
– Fluffy white-tipped tail
– Found throughout Europe, temperate Asia, northern Africa, and North America
– Introduced to Australia in the 19th century, where it has since established itself throughout much of the continent
– Lives in diverse habitats including forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts
– Adapts well to human environments such as farms, suburban areas, and even large communities
– Solitary hunters that feed on rodents, rabbits, birds, and other small game
– Diet can be flexible and includes fruit and vegetables, fish, frogs, and even worms
– Will opportunistically dine on garbage and pet food if living among humans
– Uses its tail as a warm cover in cold weather and as a signal to communicate with other foxes
– Mates in winter and gives birth to 1-10 or more young after a gestation period of seven or eight weeks
The red fox is a highly adaptable and resourceful species that has earned a reputation for intelligence and cunning.
Coyote (Canis latrans)
The coyote (Canis latrans) is a species of canine that is native to North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Grayish-brown to yellowish-brown fur on top and whitish fur on its underparts
– Pointed, erect ears and a drooping tail, which they hold below their back when running
– Yellow iris and round pupil
– Black nose that is usually less than one inch in diameter
– Large ears in relation to the head and a long, slender muzzle
– Relatively small feet for the size of the body
– Found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south to Alaska in the north
– Historically, the eastern border of its range was the Appalachians, but the coyote has expanded its range and now can be found throughout the United States and Canada
– Lives in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, forests, deserts, and urban areas
– Adapts well to human environments and is often found in suburban and urban areas
– Omnivorous and feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects, as well as fruits and vegetables
– Hunts alone or in pairs and is primarily active at night
– Communicates with each other through a variety of vocalizations, including howls, barks, and yips
– Mates in late winter or early spring and gives birth to litters of 4-7 pups after a gestation period of 60-63 days
The coyote is a highly adaptable and resilient species that has expanded its range and population in recent years.
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a medium-sized cat native to North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Brownish fur with black spots and bars on the legs and tail
– White fur on the underbelly, chin, and throat
– Black tufted ears and short, black-tipped tail
– Average weight of 8.6 kg (19 lb) for males and 4 kg (8.8 lb) for females
– Found throughout most of the contiguous United States, southern Canada, and Oaxaca in Mexico
– Lives in a variety of habitats, including forests, semi-deserts, mountains, and brushland
– Sleeps in hidden dens, often in hollow trees or logs
– Primarily nocturnal and solitary hunters that feed on small mammals, birds, and reptiles
– Also eats fruits and vegetables, and occasionally scavenges on carrion
– Communicates with each other through scent marking and vocalizations, such as growls, hisses, and purrs
– Mates in late winter or early spring and gives birth to litters of 1-6 kittens after a gestation period of 50-70 days
The bobcat is an adaptable and elusive predator that is an important part of the ecosystem in which it lives.
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a large bird native to North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Large, plump bird with long legs and a small head on a long, slim neck
– Wide, rounded tail that is fan-shaped
– Iridescent bronze body feathers and black and white bars on its wings
– Male has a tuft of feathers called a beard on his chest and an upwardly curving spur on his lower legs
– Male’s bare head and neck is red, blue, or white depending on the season
– Found throughout most of the eastern United States, southern Canada, and pockets of northern Mexico
– Also found in isolated pockets in some western states where it has been introduced
– Lives in hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with openings like fields, pastures, and orchards
– Also found in suburban and urban areas
– Omnivorous and feeds on nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and small animals
– Males attract females by gobbling and strutting with their tail fanned out, their wings lowered and dragging on the ground, their back feathers erect, their head thrown back, and their crop inflated
– Females lay 10-12 eggs in a shallow depression lined with grass and leaves
– Both males and females care for the young, which are able to fly within two weeks of hatching
The wild turkey is an iconic species that has played an important role in the history and culture of North America.
Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
The red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a bird of prey that is native to North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Large hawk with broad, rounded wings and a short, wide tail
– Brownish feathers on the back and wings, with a reddish-brown tail
– Pale underside with a dark belly band
– Yellow eyes and a yellow beak
– Found throughout most of North America, from the interior of Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies
– Lives in a variety of habitats, including open country, woodlands, prairie groves, mountains, and plains
– Found in any kind of terrain that provides both some open ground for hunting and some high perches
– Primarily a sit-and-wait predator that requires elevated perch sites for hunting
– Feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians
– Builds a bulky nest of sticks, lined with finer materials, often with leafy green branches added
– Mates for life and returns to the same nesting site each year
– Both parents care for the young, which fledge after 42-46 days
The red-tailed hawk is a widespread and familiar species that is an important predator in many ecosystems.
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
The barred owl (Strix varia) is a large species of owl that is native to North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Large, round-headed woodland owl with a grey-white facial disc
– Grey-brown plumage with buff-white edges and subterminal bars
– Brown eyes and lacks ear tufts
– Neck and upper breast have transverse barring and the belly contains vertical brown streaks
– Found throughout most of North America, from the interior of Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies
– Lives in coniferous forests near water sources and wooded swamps
– Requires dense foliage for daytime roosting and large trees with cavities for nesting
– Populations of barred owls are dependent on the presence of old growth forests throughout much of their range
– Primarily nocturnal and feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians
– Courtship involves both male and female bobbing and bowing heads, raising wings, and calling while perched close together
– Members of a pair often call in duet
– Nest site is in large natural hollow in tree, broken-off snag, or on old nest of hawk, crow, or squirrel
– Rarely nests on the ground
The barred owl is a widespread and common species that is an important predator in many ecosystems.
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a large, mostly black woodpecker native to North America. Here are some key facts about the species:
– Large, mostly black woodpecker with a red crest and bold white stripes on its head and neck
– Flies with deep, rowing wingbeats, almost like a crow
– Mostly black, with red crest and bold white stripes on head and neck
– White underwings and white patches on upperwing
– Found throughout North America, from the Great Lakes and the boreal forests of Canada to the Pacific Coast and parts of Mexico
– Lives in deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific Coast
– Requires large, standing dead trees and downed wood for foraging and nesting
– Also found in mixed and hardwood forests, woodlots, and coniferous forests
– Omnivorous and feeds on insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds
– Excavates deep, oval-shaped holes in decaying trees to search for insects
– Uses its long, extensible, pointed tongue with barbs and sticky saliva to extract insects from crevices
– Mates for life and excavates a new nest cavity each year
– Both parents care for the young, which fledge after 24-28 days
The Pileated Woodpecker is a striking and charismatic species that is an important part of the ecosystem in which it lives.
1. What is the tallest mountain in Kentucky?
The tallest mountain in Kentucky is Black Mountain, which reaches a height of 4,145 feet (1,263 meters).
2. What kind of animals can be found on Black Mountain?
Black Mountain is home to a diverse range of animals, including black bears, coyotes, bobcats, red-tailed hawks, barred owls, and Pileated Woodpeckers, among others.
3. Are there any endangered species that live on Black Mountain?
Yes, the Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) is an endangered species that can be found on Black Mountain.
4. Can visitors hike on Black Mountain?
Yes, visitors can hike on Black Mountain. The Black Mountain Crest Trail is a popular hiking trail that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
5. Are there any precautions visitors should take when hiking on Black Mountain?
Yes, visitors should take precautions when hiking on Black Mountain, such as wearing appropriate clothing and footwear, carrying plenty of water, and being aware of their surroundings. Visitors should also be aware of the potential presence of black bears and take appropriate precautions, such as carrying bear spray and making noise while hiking.