Tennessee’s tallest mountain, Clingmans Dome, is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is home to a diverse range of wildlife. As visitors ascend the mountain, they can expect to encounter a variety of animals, including the park’s emblematic animal, the black bear. In addition to the black bear, the park is home to bobcats, northern flying squirrels, red squirrels, and rock voles.
This article will explore these five animals that lurk atop Tennessee’s tallest mountain, providing insight into their habitats, behaviors, and unique characteristics. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply a nature enthusiast, discovering the wildlife of Tennessee’s tallest mountain is an experience not to be missed.
5 Animals That Lurk Atop Tennessees Tallest Mountain
Black bears are one of the largest predators living in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings.
Biologists estimate that roughly 1,500 to 1,900 black bears live in the park, which equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. Although black bears are found throughout the park, they are most commonly seen in open areas such as Cades Cove.
Black bears are omnivores, and their diet consists mainly of plants, such as acorns, berries, and grasses. However, they will also eat insects, fish, and small mammals if available. Visitors to the park are advised to keep their distance from bears and report any bear incidents to a park ranger immediately.
Bobcats are solitary and reclusive creatures that are thought to be the only felines that live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are adaptable predators that inhabit wooded areas, forest edges, and swampland environments.
Bobcats weigh up to 70 pounds and have spotted fur that ranges from brown to reddish-brown. They are nocturnal and rarely seen by visitors to the park. However, they are present in the park, and visitors should be aware of their presence.
Bobcats are carnivores, and their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rabbits, rodents, and birds. They are also known to eat insects, reptiles, and amphibians.
Although bobcats are not considered a threat to humans, visitors should still keep their distance and avoid approaching them.
Northern Flying Squirrel
The Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) is one of three species of flying squirrels found in North America. They are found in coniferous and mixed coniferous forests across much of Canada, from Alaska to Nova Scotia, and south to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee and west to Utah.
The Northern Flying Squirrel has tan or brown fur on its back and creamy white fur below. They are similar in appearance to the common southern flying squirrel, but can be slightly larger, with an overall body length of eight to 11 inches.
Northern Flying Squirrels are nocturnal and have large eyes adapted for night vision. They are gliders, not flyers, and use a special membrane between their front and back legs to glide through the air between trees.
They are the smallest tree squirrel in Washington, measuring 10 to 12 inches in total length. When they glide, they use their tail as a rudder to help them change direction.
The red squirrel, also known as the Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), is a species of tree squirrel that is common throughout Europe and Asia. In North America, the American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is a similar species that is found in coniferous forests throughout the United States and Canada.
Here are some key facts about the red squirrel:
Eurasian Red Squirrel
– The coat of the Eurasian red squirrel varies in color with the time of year and location, ranging from black to red.
– Red coats are most common in Great Britain, while in other parts of Europe and Asia, different coat colors coexist within populations.
– The underside of the squirrel is always white-cream in color.
– The red squirrel is found in both coniferous forests and temperate broadleaf woodlands.
– The squirrel makes a drey (nest) out of twigs in a branch-fork, forming a domed structure about 25 to 30 cm in diameter, which is lined with moss, leaves, grass, and bark.
– The red squirrel is a solitary animal and is shy and reluctant to share food with others.
American Red Squirrel
– The American red squirrel is about 12 inches long and has grayish, red, or rust-colored fur with a white belly.
– The squirrels prefer coniferous forests and can be found throughout the United States in the forests of Alaska, the east coast north of Georgia, and the Rocky Mountains.
– American red squirrels are active throughout the year and have litters of three to seven young in March and April.
– The red squirrel relies on trees for food, with their diet mainly made up of seeds and nuts, such as pine seeds, hazelnuts, and the seeds of larch and spruce.
– In autumn, squirrels will bury seeds and nuts, ready to be eaten in winter when food is scarce.
Both species of red squirrel are important members of their respective ecosystems, playing a role in seed dispersal and acting as prey for larger predators. However, the American red squirrel is not as threatened as its Eurasian counterpart, which has been declining in numbers due to habitat loss and competition with the introduced gray squirrel.
The rock vole (Microtus chrotorrhinus) is a small, stocky rodent that is found in eastern North America. Here are some key facts about the rock vole:
– The rock vole has short ears and a long tail that is paler underneath.
– Its fur is greyish-brown with grey underparts and a yellowish nose.
– It is about 15 cm (5.9 in) long with a 5-cm tail and weighs about 39 g (1.4 oz).
Habitat and Distribution
– Rock voles are specialized in their habitat selection and occupy cool, moist, rocky, northern hardwoods and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests dominated by balsam fir, red spruce, and white pine.
– They are found at higher elevations in coniferous or mixed wood types in BCR 14.
– Rock voles are active year-round, mainly during the day, but are rarely seen.
Behavior and Diet
– The rock vole cuts plant leaves and other plant parts and carries them to cracks between rocks or under rocks and logs before consuming them.
– They are herbivores and feed on a variety of plants, including grasses, sedges, and forbs.
– The female vole has two or three litters of four to seven young.
Rock voles are an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for predators such as hawks, owls, and snakes. They are also considered a species of concern in some parts of their range.
1. What is the tallest mountain in Tennessee?
The tallest mountain in Tennessee is Clingmans Dome, which is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. What kind of animals can be found on Tennessee’s tallest mountain?
Tennessee’s tallest mountain is home to a variety of animals, including black bears, bobcats, northern flying squirrels, red squirrels, and rock voles.
3. Are black bears dangerous?
Black bears are not typically aggressive towards humans, but visitors to the park should keep their distance and report any bear incidents to a park ranger immediately.
4. Are bobcats dangerous?
Bobcats are not considered a threat to humans, but visitors should still keep their distance and avoid approaching them.
5. What is a northern flying squirrel?
The northern flying squirrel is a nocturnal glider that is found in coniferous and mixed coniferous forests across much of Canada and the United States.
6. What is a red squirrel?
The red squirrel is a species of tree squirrel that is found in coniferous forests throughout the United States and Canada.