What mammals live at Nahant Marsh?
In terms of mammals, nearly every mammal commonly found in Eastern Iowa or Western Illinois has been observed here, including foxes, bobcats, river otters, weasels, white-tailed deer, beavers, and a healthy population of muskrats.
The homes of muskrats look like piles of cattails, sedges or other plant material and can seen scattered along the edges of the marsh. With so many muskrats, Nahant Marsh also has a healthy population of mink, who’s favorite meal is muskrat.
Mink can generally be observed slinking around the waterways at dusk or dawn. They travel from muskrat lodge to muskrat lodge, looking for a dinner.
Eastern cottontail rabbits, voles and mice are all abundant and serve as a food source for many other animals, including hawks, snakes and coyotes.
At night, striped skunks, raccoons and opossums come out of their dens to search for a meal and will often dig up turtle nests and consume the eggs.
Groundhogs are often seen foraging during the summer months along the railroad berm and the roadways. Also during summer months, bats can be observed circling around the marsh at dusk, along with swallows, eating mosquitoes and other insects that they encounter.
The ever-expanding tunnels of pocket gophers and moles also can be observed as you hike the trails at Nahant Marsh. They are active primarily during the warmer months, as they spend their time searching for insect larva and roots under ground.