ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Six Weird Animals you Might not Know Exist in Pennsylvania

Updated on July 24, 2017
Source

Did you know?

Did you know that there are animals that roam our forests, swim in our waters and fly in our skies here in lovely Pennsylvania that you never knew existed? William Penn, a Quaker, named Pennsylvania combining the name Penn and the Latin term sylvania, which translates as "woodlands." And Pennsylvania is full of wild life. Most are familiar with the white-tailed deer, raccoons, bear, trout, bald eagles and even the elk of Elk County, but there are some other interesting creatures that residents might not be familiar with that we’ll take a look at in this article.

Fisher caught on a trail cam in Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Fisher caught on a trail cam in Franklin, Pennsylvania. | Source

#1 Fisher

Our first creature is the fisher. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission portal, “Fishers are swift and elegant tree-climbing furbearers. Like the river otter, mink, skunk and pine marten, fishers are members of the Mustelid or weasel family.” Overtrapping once threatened this unique critter, but it appears to be making a comeback. Adult fishers, according to the site, are about the size of a house cat with a long body, short legs and an uncanny ability to climb trees. Fishers were not named because of their diet of fish. The animal instead eats what is in abundance and easy to catch such as rodents and in season, fruits and nuts. My brother caught this photo of a fisher on a trail cam in Franklin Pennsylvania.

Source

#2 Eastern Massasauga

Hiking the craggy hills of PA sometimes brings with it a dread of the venomous snakes that inhabit the state. Well known to most nature enthusiaists are the timber rattlesnake and the copperhead. But did you know there is another poisonous snake in Pennsylvania that is currently endangered? This is a smaller rattler named the eastern massasauga. According to Gwen Chute on the Sierra Club Allegheny website, “Massasaugas are small, rather stout rattlesnakes with large dark brown or black blotches on the back and sides that stand out against a light gray background. The small rattle sounds like the buzz of an insect and is so soft it can barely be heard from more than five feet away.” The article goes on to say that, "...the massasauga is a 'critically imperiled endangered species' and is eligible for federal endangered species listing as well."

According to the Fish and Boat Commission, "In Pennsylvania, ... populations are currently known to exist at only four sites in Butler, Venango, and Mercer Counties."


Source

#3 Hellbender

If this Pennsylvania resident sounds evil, the name really is quite mistaken. According to the PA Fish and Boat Commission, the Hellbender is the, “largest of all PA salamanders” and “can reach 29 inches in length and weigh up to five pounds,” causing this slippery devil to be described as a "giant". Hellbenders only come out at night and can look quite prehistoric. I once knew an avid fisherman who told of hooking a Hellbender off an island in the Allegheny River. He described it as gross, slimy and having small little legs. He called the animal a “water dog” and although harmless, he was very grateful to finally release it from his hook and let it be on its way.

Source

#4 Feral Pigs

According Cindy Ross on Weeklypress.com, “The Pennsylvania Game Commission has been given jurisdiction over [feral pigs] by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and has declared an open season." Feral pigs are relatives of the domesticated pig and about 3000 are roaming Penn's precious woods.

Because the pigs cause habitat damage and are a threat to other wild life, the Pennsylvania game commission is committed to their eradication. Also, according to Weeklypress.com, "...they are known to carry 18 viral diseases, ten of which can infect people, and ten bacterial diseases, all of which cause disease in humans.” No wonder these fellas are NOT welcome, but who knew they were in Pennsylvania in the first place?

Source

#5 Gar

According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, “Gars are primitive, ancient bony fish. Their ancestors date back more than 100 million years, as found in fossil records.” According to the site, Gars have a low oxygen tolerance that is quite ingenious. They have a swim bladder and when oxygen levels are low, they can go to the surface, gulp air and fill these reserves.

Gars have a long body and beak-like snout full of fine sharp teeth. I’ve seen young gars caught in minnow traps and they are a bizarre looking fresh water fish. The Commission notes that, “In Pennsylvania, [gars have] been reported from scattered locations including Lake Erie and the Allegheny and Ohio River watersheds.”

Source

#6 Star-nosed Mole

Well, freak me out - according to PBS.org, the Star-nosed mole, “won’t win any beauty contests, but ... the little mole, scientifically known as Condylura Cristata, commonly lives in the wetlands and marshes of the eastern United States” including PA.

The article continues noting that the mole, "has a star for a nose — specifically, a snout made up of 22 fleshy tentacles that form a fleshy, circular star.” These tentacles help the mole identify food since it lives in darkness and it is known as one of the speediest eaters in the animal kingdom. Some research shows that the ugly star is being studied in hopes that the touch and pain receptors in the mole might lead to help for humans in chronic pain.

WEIRD PA ANIMALS POLL

How many of the above animals did you know about?

See results

ADDENDUM

The strangest of all Pennsylvania animals is mere speculation. Does Bigfoot exist in Pennsylvania? Read for yourself and you decide at this link:

http://carlajbehr.hubpages.com/hub/Pennsylvania-Bigfoot-Do-you-Believe

REFERENCES

Chute, G. (n.d.). Sierra Club Allegheny Group » Endangered in Pennsylvania: The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Sierra Club Allegheny Group. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://alleghenysc.org/?p=5454

Gallery of Pennsylvania Fishes - Chapter 7, Gars. (n.d.). Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Home Page. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://www.fishandboat.com/Fish/PennsylvaniaFishes/GalleryPennsylvaniaFishes/Pages/Gars.aspx

PFBC Question and Answer - Eastern Hellbender. (n.d.). Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Home Page. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://www.fishandboat.com/Fish/PennsylvaniaFishes/GalleryPennsylvaniaFishes/Pages/Gars.aspx

Ross, C. (2009, December 9). Weekly Press - Philadelphia News. Weekly Press - Philadelphia News. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://weeklypress.com/feral-pigs-run-wild-in-pa-and-other-midatlantic-states-p1661-1.htm

Serfass & Micheltree. (n.d.). Fishers. http://www.portal.state.pa.us. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=631108&mode=2

Species Action Plan:. (n.d.). http://fishandboat.com/water/amprep/species-plan-eastern-massasauga.pdf. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from fishandboat.com/water/amprep/species-plan-eastern-massasauga.pdf

The Beauty of Ugly - Star-Nosed Moles | Nature | PBS. PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/the-beauty-of-ugly/star-nosed-moles/428/

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      13 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Carla,

      Terrific work. Loved the text and graphics and I am familiar with a few of these creatures since most of them also exist in northwest Alabama.

      I enjoyed this hub very much.

      Keep up the great work and if you aren't following me, I invite you to do so that we may share hub ideas. I know that I have been following you and I apologize for taking so long in getting back to you.

    • Harmel profile image

      Melody Gibbons 

      13 months ago from Staff Ave Cochranton Pa 16314

      I heard of the fisher for the first time last year. I was totally fook back that people had seen this animal. Thank you for your update on things to watch for in the woods. If I see feral pigs, I am out of there.

    • profile image

      candy 

      16 months ago

      i will be in the danville/ wilkes- barre area for the next 3 months. i didnt know they had bears in PA. how about mountain lions. ?

    • carlajbehr profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla J Behr 

      5 years ago from NW PA

      I hadn't either until about a year ago when another relative ran across one.

    • jericho911 profile image

      Kenneth Claude 

      5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      I had never even heard of a Fisher ! Interesting, indeed !

    • carlajbehr profile imageAUTHOR

      Carla J Behr 

      5 years ago from NW PA

      You're most welcome - I had fun writing this - it was quite by accident and started when my brother sent me the picture of the fisher. : )

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I live in PA and found this hub really cool -I knew a couple but was surprised by the others. Thanks for today's PA wildlife excursion.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)