Although they look like a long-nosed mouse, a shrew is not a rodent. Most shrews have pointy snouts and streamlined bodies and they move quickly with rapid jerky movements. Many species eat at least their body weight each day and are in constant search of food. They use echolocation to find their way quickly through the cover they live in. They use their long flexible snout and sensitive whiskers to forage through detritus in search of insects. Its venom can paralyze its prey for days, allowing it to keep a food cache. Shrew emit an unpleasant musk smell that deters many predators. All shrews are insectivores, eating a variety of invertebrates. They themselves are food for a variety of predators such as foxes, coyotes, weasels, owls and hawks. Camrose is home to the Masked, Artic, Prairie, Dusky, Pygmy, and Water Shrew.
Of the nine species of bats in Alberta, five are found in the Battle River Valley and Camrose area. They are all in the evening bat family, active at dusk and often again just before dawn. Most eat flying insects, mosquitos, moths, beetles, flies and true bugs. Most bats prefer forested areas with nearby open patches for foraging. However, due to deforestation for agricultural use and urbanization, most bat species in Alberta have adapted to using old buildings, parks and other unnatural yet appropriate habitats. The Little Brown Bat is the most common bat in Alberta. It is found in the Camrose area along with the Northern Long-eared, Big Brown, Hoary, and Silver-haired bats. We noticed bats spending the day in the Rotary Pavilion during construction, prior to installing the pine ceiling.
The foul-smelling spray of a skunk is what comes to mind when we think of a skunk. The skunk is an omnivore, eating a combination of animal products and vegetation. It feeds on insects, carrion, small mammals and birds, bird eggs, herptiles (reptiles and amphibians), green vegetation, fruits and berries. The skunk's only regular predator is the Great Horned Owl. The skunk's preferred habitat is streamside woodlands, hardwood groves, open grassland and valleys. They are, however, highly adaptable to human habitats.
Weasels are small predators with long slender bodies and necks with short legs. They feed on small mammals. The most common weasels in the Camrose area are the Short-tailed Weasel or Ermine and the Least Weasel. The Long-tailed Weasel is a species of concern and has also been found around Camrose. All three of these local weasels turn white in the winter and are efficient hunters.
Another member of the weasel family found occasionally in the Camrose area is the mink.
The mink is highly aquatic and always found in forested areas next to water. Its fur remains the same colour year-round and was highly prized for garments.
The American Badger is the largest member of the weasel family in the Camrose area. The badger is squat, with long, grizzled, yellow-grey hair on its sides. There is a prominent, thin stripe running from the nose over the head to the shoulders. The cheeks are white; black “badges” are placed between the whitish cheeks and the short, rounded furry ears. The front claws are long and used for digging. They live in large burrowed dens and feed primarily on burrowing animals.
The Red Fox is well established in the Stoney Creek Valley. It prefers an open habitat interspersed with bushed areas. Red Foxes are the size of a smaller dog with vivid rusty or reddish-orange fur and a white chest and belly. During summer they are largely nocturnal. They are most often seen in winter when they hunt in the open.
Coyotes are warier of humans than foxes and are generally not found directly in Camrose but rather just outside the city. The coyote is about the size of a medium-sized dog and is the fastest runner of the dog family, reaching speeds of 40-50 km/hr.
The number of Gray Wolf in Alberta, including the Dried Meat Lake area, has been recovering. They are the largest member of the dog family and can resemble a German Shepherd. They hunt in packs and primarily feed on members of the deer family.
The Canadian Lynx
The Canadian Lynx was common in the Camrose area until the 1930s. It has been sighted more recently around Camrose. It's primarily a solitary animal found in forested areas. The lynx is more than twice the size of a house cat. Its long legs and paws are used for the pursuit and ambush of prey (primarily Snowshoe Hare). The long silvery-grey fur with hints of darker stripes covers the entire cat, with a black ruff around the neck and a short stubby tail.
Deer and Moose
Three species from the deer family are present in the Camrose area. Mule Deer are common in the valley and throughout Camrose and White-tailed Deer and Moose are found in the area. The mule deer frequents open areas and is bold and conspicuous.
Their summer diet consists of grasses and herbaceous plants. In winter their diet is made up of twigs and woody vegetation. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large ears. It has a white rump with a black-tipped tail and changes colour from tan in summer to dark grey in winter. Males develop heavy upswept antlers that are equally branched. Their bouncing gate allows them to move quickly and safely across obstructions.
White-tailed deer are the most abundant deer in Alberta and are found within the city and in the area surrounding Camrose. They appear similar to Mule Deer although they don’t have the white rump patch and have smaller ears and the males have unbranched antlers. They get their name from their white tails. They are reddish-brown in summer and greyish brown in winter.
The moose is the largest of the deer family in Alberta. Although there are no moose currently in the Camrose corridor, there are a number in the surrounding area.
Historically they were quite abundant and have come back somewhat. The shoulder height of the moose is about two meters with long legs. The moose has a short neck, large bulbous nose, and humped shoulders with shovel-like antlers on males. The fur is dark-brown to black. Moose frequent stream-sides and bushy areas with abundant woody plants.