Mammals in King County
There are approximately 70 mammals found in King County -- from tiny shrews to visiting gray whales. Scroll down this page for a list of them grouped by family.
There are a couple mammals that end up causing concern to King County residents each year: Elk and Beavers. We've devoted an entire website to beavers in an attempt to thoroughly present information about them and beaver-related flooding issues and solutions. Here are a couple other resources that might be useful:
- WDFW's Elk Fact Sheet, including "Living with Elk"
- WDFW's Beaver page, including "Living with Beavers"
Another primary group of wildlife-related challenges we face in an urbanizing environment involve larger mammals -- the big predators such as black bears and cougars. Check out our Urban Wildlife page to learn more about living with these animals.
Killer whales (Orcas) are the most common whale species seen in King County waters. The Southern Resident killer whales were federally listed as endangered in November 2005 because of population declines. In July 2011, there were 88 whales in this population, and as of June 2019 the population stands at 76. The southern resident population is thought to feed solely on salmon, whose populations have declined from historic levels. The other primary threat to this population is reduced reproductive capacity and possibly declining health as a result of extremely high levels of pollutants found in their bodies. There is a lot of information available about the Southern Resident population:
- UW's Center for Conservation Biology research on Causes of Decline among Southern Resident Killer Whales
- The Whale Museum's Issues Affecting the Southern Resident Orcas
- Vessel Regulations in Washington State for Southern Resident Killer Whales
- NOAA's Killer Whale Fact Sheet
- The Orca Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest
Although this page is about mammals in King County, some recent sightings in Puget Sound and off the coast of Washington are too interesting to not mention:
- Gray whale spotted in backwater of south Puget Sound, KOMO News, June 19, 2013
- Dead [fin] whale draws crowd to Puget Sound beach, Associated Press, April 15, 2013
- Southern Resident Orcas have a new calf, Seattle PI, December 20, 2011
- Long-beaked tropical dolphins spotted in Puget Sound, Seattle Times, June 21, 2011
- Rare Blue Whales return off the Washington Coast, Seattle PI, December 14, 2011
- Six Blue Whales Wow Scientists Off Peninsula, OPB News, December 20, 2011
Other related information
- WDFW's page on squirrel species in the State of Washington
- American Cetacean Society - Puget Sound Chapter
- Want to search for listed species in the State? WDFW's searchable database is very handy.
- Burke Museum provides information about mammals in Washington State.
- Slater Museum of Natural History maintains a mammals web site. The list of mammals below is taken directly from their list: only King County's mammals are included.
Order Didelphimorphia: Opossum-like Marsupials
Didelphis virginiana, Virginia Opossum. Wooded habitats. Widespread in W lowlands, local E; introduced from E U.S.
Order Insectivora: Insectivores
Sorex vagrans, Vagrant Shrew. Marshes, meadows, and moist forests.
Sorex monticolus, Montane Shrew. Forests. Cascades to coast, NE corner, and Blue Mountains.
Sorex palustris, Water Shrew. Mountain streams and pools. Olympics, Cascades, NE corner, and Blue Mountains.
Sorex bendirii, Pacific Water Shrew. Marshes and stream banks. W of Cascades.
Sorex trowbridgii, Trowbridge's Shrew. Forests. Cascades to coast.
Neurotrichus gibbsii, Shrew-mole. Moist forests. Cascades to coast.
Scapanus townsendii, Townsend's Mole. Meadows. W lowlands.
Scapanus orarius, Coast Mole. Most habitats. W lowlands, central E Cascades slopes, and Blue Mountains foothills.
Order Chiroptera: Bats
Vespertilionidae: Vespertilionid Bats
Myotis lucifugus, Little Brown Myotis. Roosts in buildings and caves.
Myotis yumanensis, Yuma Myotis. All habitats near water, roosting in trees, buildings, and caves.
Myotis evotis, Long-eared Myotis. Conifer forests, roosting in tree cavities, caves, and buildings; also watercourses in arid regions.
Myotis volans, Long-legged Myotis. Coniferous forests, also along watercourses in arid areas, roosting under tree bark and in rock crevices and buildings.
Myotis californicus, California Myotis. Most lowland habitats (near water in arid zones), roosting in buildings, rock crevices, and snags.
Lasiurus cinereus, Hoary Bat. Forested areas, roosting among tree foliage. Might be found anywhere in migration.
Lasionycteris noctivagans, Silver-haired Bat. Forested areas, roosting under bark.
Eptesicus fuscus, Big Brown Bat. All habitats, roosting in tree cavities, buildings, and rock crevices.
Plecotus townsendii, Western Big-eared Bat. All habitats, roosting in caves and mine shafts.
Order Lagomorpha: Lagomorphs
Ochotona princeps, Pika. Talus slopes. Cascades and NE mountains.
Leporidae: Hares and Rabbits
Sylvilagus floridanus, Eastern Cottontail. Meadows and open woodlands. Local in lowlands; introduced from E U.S.
Lepus americanus, Snowshoe Hare. Forests. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Order Rodentia: Rodents
Aplodontidae: Mountain Beaver
Aplodontia rufa, Mountain Beaver. Forests and clearings. Cascades to coast.
Tamias amoenus, Yellow-pine Chipmunk. Sagebrush and dry conifer forests E of Cascades. Also subalpine zone in Olympics and Cascades.
Tamias townsendii, Townsend's Chipmunk. Wet forests from E slope of Cascades to coast.
Marmota caligata, Hoary Marmot. Subalpine and alpine zones. Cascades and far NE corner.
Spermophilus saturatus, Cascade Ground Squirrel. Meadows and open woodlands. Cascades.
Sciurus carolinensis, Eastern Gray Squirrel. Cities and towns. Puget Trough, Yakima Valley, and Spokane; introduced from E U.S.
Sciurus niger, Eastern Fox Squirrel. Cities and towns. Introduced from E North America and established in a few places in E lowlands; other introductions have not persisted.
Tamiasciurus douglasii, Douglas' Squirrel. Conifer forests. Cascades to coast.
Glaucomys sabrinus, Northern Flying Squirrel. Forests. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Geomyidae: Pocket Gophers
Thomomys talpoides, Northern Pocket Gopher. Open areas in all habitats. Cascades and E, down Columbia River to Clark County.
Thomomys mazama, Western Pocket Gopher. Meadows in forested areas. Olympics and lower Puget Sound S; many populations disappearing.
Castor canadensis, Beaver. Wetlands.
Cricetidae: Cricetid Rats
Peromyscus maniculatus, Deer Mouse. All habitats but much less common in wet forests inhabited by next species.
Peromyscus keenii, Forest Deer Mouse. Forests. Cascades and W lowlands, often with preceding species. Formerly Peromyscus oreas, Columbia Mouse.
Neotoma cinerea, Bushy-tailed Woodrat. Talus and rocky areas at all elevations.
Clethrionomys gapperi, Gapper's Red-backed Vole. Forests. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Phenacomys intermedius, Heather Vole. Subalpine forest and meadows.
Microtus townsendii, Townsend's Vole. Marshes, wet meadows, and riparian woodlands. W lowlands.
Microtus longicaudus, Long-tailed Vole. Moist habitats, lowlands and mountains. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Microtus oregoni, Creeping Vole. Moist habitats. Cascades to coast.
Microtus richardsoni, Water Vole. Streams and wet meadows. Cascades and Blue Mountains.
Ondatra zibethicus, Muskrat. Wetlands.
Muridae: Murid Rats
Rattus rattus, Black Rat. Most habitats, especially near habitations. Mostly W lowlands; introduced from Europe.
Rattus norvegicus, Norway Rat. Usually associated with humans. Introduced from Europe.
Mus musculus, House Mouse. Most habitats, especially near habitations. Introduced from Europe.
Zapodidae: Jumping Mice
Zaphus trinotatus, (or Zapus) Pacific Jumping Mouse. Forest clearings and meadows. Cascades to coast.
Erethizontidae: New World Porcupines
Erethizon dorsatum, Porcupine. Open forest to shrub steppe.
Myocastor coypus, Nutria. Wetlands. Established locally both W and E of Cascades; introduced from South America.
Order Carnivora: Carnivores
Canis latrans, Coyote. All habitats.
Canis lupus, Gray Wolf. Forested habitats. N Cascades and NE corner, very rare.
Vulpes vulpes, Red Fox. Forests and woodlands. Mountains (native populations) and W lowlands (populations introduced from E U.S.).
Ursus americanus, Black Bear. Forested and semiopen areas.
Ursus arctos, Grizzly Bear. Forested and open areas. N border of state, very rare.
Procyon lotor, Raccoon. Wooded areas. W lowlands and along Columbia/Snake river systems.
Martes americana, Marten. Mountain forests, less common in lowlands. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Martes pennanti, Fisher. Forests. Formerly Olympics, Cascades, and NE corner, now virtually extirpated.
Mustela erminea, Ermine. Forests. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Mustela frenata, Long-tailed Weasel. All habitats.
Mustela vison, Mink. Wetlands. Throughout but rare in Columbia Basin.
Gulo gulo, Wolverine. Forests and meadows. Cascades and NE corner, very rare.
Spilogale gracilis, Western Spotted Skunk. Woodlands and thickets. W lowlands and Blue Mountains foothills.
Mephitis mephitis, Striped Skunk. All habitats except sagebrush, more in open areas than preceding species.
Lontra canadensis, (previously Lutra canadensis) River Otter. Marine and freshwater. Throughout but only in large rivers E of Cascades.
Puma concolor, Cougar. (previously Felis concolor) All habitats. Throughout except Columbia Basin.
Lynx rufus, Bobcat. (Previously Felis rufus) All habitats.
Otariidae: Eared Seals
Eumetopias jubatus, Steller Sea Lion. Large males and sub-adult Steller sea lions can occasionally be seen in the inland waters of Washington State.
Zalophus californianus, California Sea Lion. Marine, hauling out on floating platforms. Winter visitor, mostly Puget Sound.
Phocidae: True Seals (also known as Earless Seals)
Phoca vitulina, Harbor Seal. Marine, hauling out on rocks and sand islands. Entire coast.
Order Cetacea: Cetaceans (*=Species most likely to be seen)
Eschrichtiidae: Gray Whale
Eschrichtius robustus, Gray Whale*.
Balaenoptera acutorostrata, Minke Whale*.
Megaptera novaeangliae, Humpback Whale* (offshore).
Orcinus orca, Killer Whale*.
Phocoena phocoena, Harbor Porpoise*.
Phocoenoides dalli, Dall's Porpoise*.
Order Artiodactyla: Even-toed Ungulates
Cervus elaphus, Elk. Forested regions. Olympics, migrating to lowlands in winter. Extirpated from E part but reintroduced in Cascades, Blue Mountains, and NE mountains and again established.
Odocoileus hemionus, Mule Deer. All habitats. "Black-tailed Deer" O. h. columbianus west of Cascades crest, sometimes wanders east.
Oreamnos americanus, Mountain Goat. Alpine and subalpine zone. Cascades; also introduced into Olympics.
Information about distribution and habitats of land mammals from Terrestrial Mammals of Washington State, Location Data and Predicted Distributions, Washington State Gap Analysis Project Final Report, Vol. 3, by R. E. Johnson & K. M. Cassidy, 1997.