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Muskoka Wildlife

Muskoka wildlife is a good reflection of all eastern Canada's wildlife, including lynx, bobcat, wolf, fox, and porcupine.

Muskoka is a great place to see those Ontario animals you rarely meet in everyday life.

Not necessarily a bad thing, perhaps, when we're talking about timber wolves, bears and the very rare eastern cougar:-) 

To see wildlife you usually need to be up early or out late in the day. For the most part, animals are active at dawn and sunset. That's particularly true somewhere like Muskoka which is busy with holidaymakers all summer long.

The noise of boats, quad bikes, and parties keeps animals well away from inhabited places. 

Muskoka Wildlife - Canines

Muskoka Wildlife Centre, timber wolves

The beauty of visiting Muskoka in winter is you see the animals that don't hibernate when the snow comes because they are particularly adapted for living in it.

Timber wolves, for example have long legs and thick coats to get them through the winter, as you see on these two. 

Muskoka Wildlife Centre, grey fox

When the settlers arrived, they brought with them their love of field sports, one of which was fox hunting. Unfortunately, the native grey fox can climb trees so the sportsmen had a thin time of it.

Their response was to import red foxes from Britain and, as they are bigger than the unfortunate grey, they soon drove out the greys. Today, grey foxes are only found in the most southerly parts of Ontario and the red fox is found everywhere else in Ontario. 

Muskoka Wildlife - Cats

Muskoka Wildlife Centre, cougar

Another animal adapted for winter in Canada is the cougar or puma with its thick, loose furry skin and big paws. Eastern cougars, rather than the western variety found in the mountains of the West Coast, were once fairly common in Ontario but the settlers pretty well wiped them out.

There are reports of eastern cougars being seen in the northern forests again, or maybe moving in slowly from the west, perhaps, where they still live in numbers. 

Muskoka Wildlife Centre, Canadian Lynx

Canadian Lynx inhabit the more northerly forested areas of Ontario where they live on snowshoe hares. Like the hares, the lynx has large feet that keep it moving on top of the snow. Their greyish colouring helps them blend into the landscape so they aren't easily or often seen.

Canadian Lynx are 'big' cats, not cougar-sized but certainly bigger than any domestic cat. They're the size of mid-sized dogs, spaniels or something like that.

Muskoka Wildlife Centre, bobcat

Bobcats inhabit the more southerly regions of Ontario, hence their brown fur to blend in with the less snowy and icy forests and don't need the big feet the lynx has.

They're about 2/3 the size of a lynx, not much bigger than a large house cat, which makes them much more manageable if you meet one in the wild.

Other Animals

Muskoka Wildlife Centre, porcupine

Another animal that climbs trees well, which, like the gray fox, you wouldn't expect from looking at it, is the porcupine. This slow cumbersome creature looks incapable of any exertion but it's a good climber and often sleeps in trees for safety.

The most likely place to see one in Ontario is as roadkill but if you're up north they're fairly common. 

For more amazingly good pictures of Ontario wildlife, including some from the sadly closed Muskoka Wildlife Centre, visit Ray Barlow's website. 

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