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25 Mammals You Can See In Iowa

Iowa, also known as the Hawkeye state, has many different habitats home to many species of mammals. In this article, I look at 25 mammals that you can find in Iowa.

Iowa is full of prairies, grasslands, and savanna, with over 60% of the state used for agriculture and crops. This makes Iowa an ideal place to see many different animals.

In this article, I look at 25 mammals you can see in Iowa.

American Badger

The American badger is one of many carnivorous North American mammals. Its color is dark gray with a white stripe on its back, white patches on its eyes, and a white underbody. 

The American badger measures from 60 to 75 cm and weighs 6.3 to 8.6 kg. This carnivore eats mice, squirrels, groundhogs, moles, and prairie dogs. 

They live in grasslands, prairies, marshes, and farms. Their lifespan is four to fourteen years in the wild and twenty-six in captivity.

American mink

American Mink

The American mink can be found in the northern regions of North America. The color varies from brown to black, and they have a white patch on the throat. 

They measure from 31 to 45 cm and weigh from 400 to 1580 g.  Their lifespan is three to four years in the wild and ten years in captivity.

American mink are carnivores eating muskrats, snakes, mice, fish, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, and frogs. They live in wet areas like swamps and marshlands or near water bodies.

Red Squirrel

American Red Squirrel

The red squirrel is a small, solitary, and diurnal animal. Its color is gray, red, or dark brown, with white on its underbody, and sometimes has black stripes on its sides. 

They measure from 28 to 35 cm (including the tail) and weigh 200 to 282 g. 

The red squirrel eats sunflower seeds and all types of nuts. They are arboreal, living in coniferous, deciduous, and mixed forests, with a lifespan of 5 to 10 years.

Bobcat

Bobcat

The bobcat is a nocturnal, elusive, midsize wildcat related to the lynx. Their appearance is like a big domestic cat with a bobbed tail. 

Their color can range from grayish brown to red, with a white underbody. They measure from 47 to 125 cm and weigh 8 to 9 kg. 

The bobcat is a carnivore and eats raccoons, squirrels, rodents, rabbits, birds, reptiles, skunks, and sometimes even deer. 

They have extraordinary night vision and can live in all types of habitats across the central section of North America. Their lifespan ranges from 10 to 12 years.

coyote

Coyote 

The coyote is a midsize canine with the look of a domestic dog and is thinner and smaller than the gray wolf.  Their color is grayish-brown with a white underbody. 

Coyotes measure about 1.5 m (including the tail) and weigh 6.8 to 21 kg. Their lifespan ranges from ten to fourteen years in the wild and up to twenty-one years in captivity.

Coyotes are adaptable and have an extremely varied omnivorous diet.  Their diet includes cactus fruits, flowers, insects, rodents, rabbits, birds, and reptiles. 

They can be found in most habitats across North America.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

The Eastern chipmunk is a solitary animal. Their color is reddish-brown with two white stripes surrounded by black stripes on the side of its back and head, with a fifth black stripe running across the center of its back. The chipmunk’s underbody has a lighter brown color. 

They measure about 30 cm (including the tail) and weigh from 66 to 150 g. 

The Eastern chipmunk is an omnivore that eats acorns, insects, eggs, mushrooms, snails, nuts, fruits, seeds, berries, and corn. 

They like to live in rocky areas, logs, and bushes in deciduous forests and urban parks. They live in the eastern United States and Southeast Canada, with a lifespan of three years.

Ermine

Ermine

The ermine is a solitary weasel that lives in the northern part of the continent. 

Their color is dark brown on the back and white on the underbody during the summer. In winter, their color changes to almost pure white. 

The ermine measures from 17 to 32 cm and weigh about 260 g.  The ermine is a carnivore that eats mainly rodents but will also eat birds, fish, amphibians, small reptiles, and insects. 

They live in taigas and tundras, with a lifespan of four to six years in the wild.

Gray Fox

The gray fox is a solitary fox that lives in the southern part of the United States and Mexico.  

Their back has a scattered combination of light and dark gray with reddish-brown sides and an underbody of white. 

They measure from 76 to 112.5 cm and weigh from 3.6 to 7kg. Their lifespan is sixteen years in the wild and twenty years in captivity.

The gray fox is an omnivore and eats mice, birds, voles, rabbits, insects, corn, fruits, nuts, and berries. 

They live in dense forests, in areas with rocky terrain or thick vegetation.

Least Weasel 

The least weasel is also known as the common weasel or little weasel.  They are the smallest member of the genus Mustela. 

They are native to North America, but also Eurasia and North Africa. Their bodies are slender and elongated, with relatively short tails and legs. 

The average body length is around 130 to 260 mm, and they weigh between 36 to 250 grams, with males being slightly bigger than females. 

The pelage color of least weasels varies according to the geographical location, but the underparts are usually white, and the back, limbs, and tail are brown. 

Their diet consists mainly of small rodents. Males mark their territory with olfactory signs and are strongly territorial and dominant weasels. 

Least weasels may have aggressive encounters with each other. The least weasel occupies a wide range of different habitats.

Long-tailed Weasel 

The long-tailed weasel is a fearless, aggressive hunter. They are also known as the bridled weasel or the big stoat. 

Their color is reddish-brown with a light yellow underbody, but in cold northern regions, they are entirely white. 

The long-tailed weasel measures from 23 to 35 cm and weighs 85 to 267 g. They are carnivores and can attack animals that are twice their size. 

They eat primarily mice, voles, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, eggs, and insects. 

They live in grasslands and thin forests in sub-tropical areas with mild temperatures in the southern states of North America. Their lifespan is up to five years.

Meadow Vole 

The meadow vole is a small, primarily nocturnal rodent. They are also known by other names, such as the field mouse or meadow mouse. 

Their colors vary from yellowish or reddish-brown to dark brown, and the underbody is gray. They measure about 12 cm and weigh about 43g. 

This herbivore eats grasses, weeds, grains, seeds, bark, roots, and fruits. They live in dense grasslands and thin forests in the northern part of North America (except for the most intense polar regions). 

The meadow vole is an excellent swimmer and good at digging holes. 

Their lifespan ranges from 2 to 16 months. Some people consider them a pest because they cause significant damage to plants and carry similar diseases as other rodents.

Mule Deer

The mule deer is the most common in the west of North America.  Mule deer can be found all down the west coast, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains.

In winter, mule deer are tan or pale brown with a white patch on their rump and a small tail with a black tip.

Mule deer found along the west coast are darker with a larger black tail.  West coast mule deer are also known as the black-tail.

Mule deer prefer habitats that shelter them from predators such as wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and the puma.

Mule deer can weigh up to 120 kg and grow to a length of 168 cm.  Male deer are larger than female deer.

Muskrat

Muskrat 

The muskrat is a midsize, primarily nocturnal, semiaquatic rodent from North America. Their colors vary from brown to black, with a lighter underbody. 

Muskrats measure from 40 to 70 cm and weigh 600 grams up to 2 kg. Their lifespan is 3 to 4 years.

The muskrat is an omnivore and eats aquatic vegetation, farm and garden plants, roots, pondweed, fruits, vegetables, snails, salamanders, crustaceans, fish, and birds. 

They live in wetlands in the northern part of North America. They are considered a pest because of the destruction it causes in the places they live and the diseases they can carry.

Nine-banded Armadillo 

The nine-banded armadillo is also called the long-nosed armadillo. They usually weigh between 2.5 to 6.5 kg and reach 38-58cm in length. 

They live in various habitats, from forests to more arid areas. Nine-banded armadillos do not tolerate cold weather but can survive in colder temperatures for several days by remaining in a burrow. 

They are mainly nocturnal and solitary animals. Nine-banded armadillos are mainly insectivores but can sometimes eat small amphibians and reptiles. 

Unlike the three-banded armadillo, this species cannot roll itself into a ball but can jump high when disturbed.

River otter

Northern River Otter

The river otter is an intelligent, semiaquatic mammal found in the northern states.

The river otter has short, very dense fur. Their colors vary from gray to brown, with a lighter underbody. 

They measure from 66 to 107 cm and weigh 5 to 14 kg. 

River otters are carnivores eating fish, turtles, frogs, crayfish, and insects. 

They live in aquatic habitats in the northern part of North America. Their lifespan is eight to nine years in the wild and fifteen to twenty years in captivity.

Norway Rat

The Norway rat is also known as the brown rat. They are a rodent that lives all over the world. Their color is brown with a lighter color on the underbody. 

The brown rat measures from 15 to 28 cm and weighs 140 to 500 g. 

The brown rat is an omnivore, eating seeds, nuts, grains, fruits, eggs, birds, mice, small rabbits, fish, and insects. 

They live in forests and urban and suburban areas and have a lifespan of two years.

Nutria

Nutria

The nutria is very similar in appearance to a beaver.  They have light to dark brown fur and are also aquatic.  Unlike the beaver, their rounded tails have fewer hairs which are not as flat or wide.  

Nutria is about one-third the size of an adult beaver. 

Nutria is sometimes misidentified as a large muskrat, although they are over five times the size.  The tail of a muskrat, like a beaver, lays flat, although more triangular.  

Nutria has long white whiskers, unlike beavers and muskrats, which have black whiskers.

Nutria can weigh up to 20 lbs with a body length up to 2 ft.  Their tails are 1-1.5 ft long and have webbed hind feet.

They can be destructive, causing damage through burrowing.  The damage can erode riverbanks and cause flood-control levees to breach and weaken.  

Nutria also causes damage to the plants in their environment as well.  They eat up to 25% of their body weight per day but destroy and waste approximately ten times as much again.  

The damage they cause can threaten rare populations of other animals that rely on these habitats and the livelihoods of agricultural farms.

raccoon digging

Raccoon 

The raccoon is a nocturnal, gray, brown, or black midsize mammal.  They have white faces with a black mask around their eyes. They measure from 40 to 70 cm and weigh 5 to 26 kg. 

The raccoon is an opportunistic omnivore eating fruit, plants, oak nuts, insects, worms, rodents, frogs, eggs, and crayfish. 

Raccoons live in forests, suburban, and urban areas in the Central and southern states of North America. The average lifespan of a raccoon is two to three years.

Red bat

Red Bat

The red bat is found across North America and is a microbat species.  They measure 109 mm (4.3 in) with a weight of just 7 to 13.  

They have long pointed wings with short ears and a long tail.  

Eastern red bats are very maneuverable and can fly quickly.  They do not hibernate, staying in the same regions all year.  

They are prioritized as the least concern by the IUCN. 

Red Fox 

The red fox is a midsize fox that lives in the northern region of North America. 

The color varies from light yellow to red, with dark legs and a white underbody. They measure from 45 to 90 cm and weigh 2.2 to 14 kg. Their lifespan is between two to five years. 

The red fox is an omnivore, eating grass, fruits, corn, apples, oak nuts, cherries, berries, mice, birds, rabbits, squirrels, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and crayfish. 

The red fox lives in forests, grasslands, mountains, deserts, and suburban areas.

Bog lemming

Southern Bog Lemming

The Southern bog lemming is a small mammal from the eastern regions of North America. 

Their color varies from red to dark brown and light gray on the underbody. 

They measure about 13 cm long and weigh about 35 g. 

The Southern bog lemming eats plants, seeds, stems, and leaves. They live in moist areas, deciduous and coniferous forests, wetlands, and marshes. Their lifespan is 29 months.

opossum in winter

Virginia Opossum 

The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. Their habitats can vary, and they are one of the species to thrive in urban areas.  They prefer living close to water sources. 

This medium-sized animal measures between 13-37cm in length and can weigh between 0.3-3.7 kg. 

They have relatively short legs and typically gray or brownish fur. 

This animal is known to act as if they are dead as protection against predators.

The Virginia opossum is an omnivore eating almost anything: carcasses, garbage, plants, animals, and insects. 

They live in deciduous forests, farming areas, marshes, swamps, and wooded streams. Their lifespan is four years.

White tailed deer

White-tailed Deer 

The white-tailed deer is a mammal found in the central part of the American continent. In North America, they live in most of Mexico, the United States, and the southern parts of Canada. 

Their color is grayish-brown in the winter and reddish-brown in the summer. They have patches of white on their face, underbody, and tail. 

The white-tailed deer measures from 95 to 220 cm and weighs 45 to 68 kg. 

White-tailed deer are herbivores eating grass, corn, leaves, nuts, twigs, fruits, and fungi. 

They adapt well to different habitats and live in grasslands, forests, farmlands, and deserts. Their lifespan is four to five years.

White-tailed Jackrabbit 

The white-tailed jackrabbit is also known as the prairie hare or white jack and can be mainly found in the north and western regions of North America. 

They are also found in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta in Canada.

The dimensions of this species range between 56 to 65 centimeters in length, while their weight can span between 2.5 to 4.3 kilograms. 

They are solitary rabbits that live in depressions in the ground hidden by vegetation. 

The white-tailed jackrabbit is nocturnal and only emerges from its nests at dusk to feed. In contrast to the black-tailed jackrabbit, the white-tailed jackrabbit prefers lowland habitats.

Woodchuck
Woodchuck

Woodchuck

The woodchuck, also known as the groundhog or the red monk, is typical of the eastern regions of the United States, Canada, and Alaska. 

Males are usually bigger than females, but their weight changes considerably across different seasons. Generally, they measure 42 to 68.5 cm, although their weight ranges from 2 to 6.5 kilos during the year. 

They are diurnal animals that, on average, live two to three years. They enjoy staying in the open air, and they are very territorial animals that live in colonies.

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