Local parks aren’t just good places for people to go – they also attract dozens of animal types.
Parks that include water, such as Wallace Park’s Burnt Mill Creek, have an even wider array of plant and animal life.
“The total list of animal species in that one park would be likely in the hundreds, if you include the animals without backbones,” said Andy Wood, education director for N.C. Audubon, a research and conservation program for state habitats.
There are numerous types of fish, insects, birds, frogs and lizards, as well as larger animals, Wood said. A few of the more unusual critters you might see at Wallace and other parks include:
Southeastern five-lined skink – a large, harmless lizard with an electric-blue tail
Golden silk spider – a large spider that has moved up the coast as climates warm
Blue crabs – they can stand low saltwater levels, so they will be found inland up to about the Black River
Eels – especially during February, when 2- to 3-inch eels about the size of a pencil lead migrate up the creek in the tens of thousands
Snakes – most commonly the black racer, although there could also be a red-bellied watersnake, corn snake or rat snake. It’s unlikely that a venomous snake would be there.
One reader mentioned seeing an otter or beaver in the area, and Wood said the habitat, which includes lots of fish, makes it more likely an otter. But beaver do live near Anne McCrary Lake, he said.
You also could spot muskrat, raccoon, possum, fox or even coyote if you go at the right time.
As the economic situation leads to less maintenance and pesticide use, even more flora and fauna might emerge, Wood said, making the parks a great place for people to enjoy the natural world.
“It’s an opportunity for little kids to find really interesting backyard wildlife they can enjoy safely and learn more about,” he said.
Date posted: July 8, 2009
User-contributed question by: