The Cumberland Plateau is a beautiful place which many interesting animals call home. The area is rich with arachnids, amphibians, birds, fish, insects, mammals, and reptiles. If you have come to this site, it must mean that you would like to take a closer look at some of these animal species. So, as you walk this trail, look and listen closely. You may just hear or see one of these animals.
Black Widow Spider
The black widow spider is an arachnid that you could possibly encounter on this trail. This species of spider is native to North America. The picture above is of a female species which is known for having the reddish hourglass marking on the underside of her abdomen. The venom of a black widow is very toxic, but fortunately their bites are rarely lethal. For more Information, tap here.
Northern Slimy Salamander
The Northern slimy salamander is an amphibian found in this area of Tennessee. This salamander, as its name suggests, is able to excrete a slimy, glue-like substance when it is threatened. It is found in moist woodland areas in leaf litter, under rocks, and under/in rotting logs. Slimy salamanders feed primarily at night and consume a wide variety of invertebrates. Learn more here.
The spring peeper is another amphibian found in this area of Tennessee. This small frog typically has a dark X-shaped mark on its back. To many people, this frog’s call is a welcome sound signaling that the end of winter is near and warmer times are coming soon. Listen and read more.
The Northern mockingbird is a very common bird in this area. This medium-sized bird is the state bird of Tennessee. As its name suggests, this bird mimics other birds’ songs and other sounds such as squeaky gates and car alarms. Each song phrase is repeated three or more times before changing to the next song. Males sing to attract females and to defend their territory against other males. They often sing at night as well as during the day. Most nocturnal singers are unmated males, which sing more than mated males during the day, too. Nighttime singing is more common during the full moon. Hear how they sound and learn about them.
The Carolina wren is another bird you are likely to hear in this area if you listen close. It is a small bird, but it packs a powerful voice for its size. Its song is a loud, whistled tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle. The best field mark is the way the tail is usually cocked straight-up. Learn more and hear their song.
Katydids are medium-sized to large insects. They are usually green, sometimes with brown markings. Katydids are camouflaged to blend in with the leaves that they consume. They are more often heard than seen. Their sounds fill the night during late summer here on the Cumberland Plateau. Listen and learn.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
The Eastern gray squirrel is a very common mammal in this area. This mammal belongs to the rodent family. Rodents are characterized by their unique set of incisor teeth. A rodent’s incisors grow continuously throughout its life and must be kept worn down by gnawing. The Eastern gray squirrel spends most of its life in trees. They can be quite vocal at times. The most familiar sound they make is a bark. Hear the squirrels bark or see their tracks and learn more.
The Northern copperhead is our most commonly seen venomous snake in this area. This reptile is recognized by its hourglass shaped marking across its body. It also, as its name suggests, often has a coppery appearance to its head. It feeds primarily on mice. When disturbed, this snake sometimes vibrates its tail which makes a rattling sound when the snake is found in dry leaf litter. The Northern copperhead is the least venomous of our four types of venomous snakes found in Tennessee. Learn more.
– Brent Smith, Park Ranger, South Cumberland State Park
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