Carolina Ocoee White Water Rafting loves animals, and we are surrounded by an abundance of wildlife. Book a trip with Carolina Ocoee, then remember to scan the shoreline during calmer water for a chance to spot one of the wild animals below. We can think of no better way to catch your breath after an exhilarating trip over class III & IV rapids! Gear up, have fun, and remember to be respectful of your surroundings.
Black bears are a national treasure in east Tennessee. When European settlers moved into the Cherokee National Forest area, the bear’s numbers dwindled. Thanks to sanctuaries and hunting guidelines, they have now made a comeback. One such sanctuary is along the south side of the Ocoee River in the Big Frog Wilderness area. No hunting is allowed, and all bears who have made a nuisance of themselves, like digging into garbage cans for food, get transferred to this black bear reserve. So you have a great chance of seeing a black bear when you go white water rafting with Carolina Ocoee.
Bears roam the Tennessee hills and mountains foraging for food. They range in color from black, blue-black, dark brown, brown, cinnamon and even white–if you spot a white one, snap a picture from a distance, and share with us at Carolina Ocoee white water rafting. Bears prefer to roam alone, but will gather in places with plentiful food sources like berry patches and oak stands. Bears mate in July and can usually be seen in early morning or late evening. For information on what and what not to do when near a bear, visit Black Bears in Tennessee. It’s important that you follow these rules for your own safety and the protection of the bears.
Squirrels are plentiful everywhere it seems. These cute little bushy-tailed creatures can be seen scampering through the forest and up trees. They tend to bark, chatter, scream, stomp the ground, and swish their tails to communicate with each other. They are most active at dawn and dusk, but only come out in the winter during midday. A squirrel’s main source of food are nuts, but they also eat berries and flowers and other sources of food.
Tennessee boasts five different species of squirrels–Easter Gray Squirrels (not to be confused with the Eastern Gray Squirrel), Red Squirrels, Southern Flying Squirrels, Northern Flying Squirrels, and Fox Squirrels. Gray squirrels are the most common and can be spotted just about every time you set foot in a forest. For more information on each of these species, visit Smoky Wildlife Control.
This masked nocturnal creature can be found throughout east Tennessee and state wide in forests and urban areas. Raccoons will eat just about anything, including the bushy tales above (squirrels). Solitary creatures by nature, they hunt alone and only gather during breeding season. They aren’t a threat to humans, but they might bite or scratch you if they feel threatened, making them dangerous animals. You can usually see these creatures at night, possibly right outside your rented cabin in the woods. Visit the Wildlife Resources Agency, for information on how to deal with a raccoon when it’s being a nuisance.
The striped skunk is the most common type of skunk seen in the Cherokee National Forest along the Ocoee River in Ducktown TN, though they are most often seen around corners and fencerows in fields. The only predator that can withstand the stinky scent sprayed by a skunk is the Great Horned Owl. People are more apt to run from a skunk than from a bear, because no one wants to get sprayed. The scent lingers and is difficult to get rid of. Skunks prefer to eat both plants and animals, which includes snakes and insects. To learn more about this critter, visit the State of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Opossums are beneficial animals to have around. They are omnivorous and will eat anything, including keeping the scary tick population down and keeping snakes out of your yard. If you have chickens, you might want to safeguard them from opossums, because they will eat those too. They sleep all day and hunt at night. When threatened, they will hiss and secrete a foul smelling odor to discourage predators. Opossums actually do play dead, so if you find one that “appears” to be dead, move it to a safe place and leave it. It will wake up and move on. Opossums can be found along streams and rivers like the Ocoee River near Copperhill,TN as they love wetlands. Read more about this marsupial at Live Science.
The bobcat is probably the most elusive and most common wild cat in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. In order to spot one, you would need to move inland from the Ocoee River or Nantahala River. Bobcats prefer heavily forested areas and are stealthy hunters. Sometimes they are confused for a cougar, even though bobcats are much smaller. They hunt a variety of forest animals, including deer occasionally, and they will hunt and eat your domesticated cat. To learn more visit Bobcat | State of Tennessee.
Chipmunks look like a mini version of a squirrel with stripes down its back. They climb trees but build their homes three feet beneath the earth in tunnels that can run as long as 30 feet. Here they store nuts and build nests for hibernation. Chipmunks spend a majority of their time foraging for food to stock up for the winter months. They store extra food in their cheek pouches creating “chipmunk cheeks”. As with most animals, you’re most likely to see them in the early morning hours, or right at dusk. Visit Chipmunk Facts | Live Science for more information on this cute little critter.
The river otter is a semi-aquatic mammal and can be seen in and along the Ocoee River in Ducktown TN. Almost hunted to extinction by European settlers, and not seen in the Appalachian mountains in over 50 years, river otters were reintroduced back into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on February 27,1986. Their homes are secluded outcroppings along the river, and they will even use beaver ponds and dams as an ideal home. They feed on fish, frogs, salamanders, and crayfish. River otters can be observed sliding down muddy banks or snow covered slopes, because it is fun and great exercise for them. Want to know more? Visit Wildlife Resources Agency of Tennessee.
Red and Gray Fox
These shy canine-like creatures are seen in some areas of Tennessee, including the Ocoee River Basin. They roam near rivers but prefer dense foliage and brushy forest areas with open fields as their habitat. They hunt small game such as rabbits, but will eat fruit and even snakes. A gray fox can climb a tree and use them for sunning and hiding from danger. Like the bobcat, count yourself lucky if you see this elusive animal in the wild. To learn more visit Gray Fox | Wildlife Resources Agency.
Deer can be seen just about anywhere–running across the road in front of you, on the side of a mountain near a busy highway, in open fields deep in the woods, and along the backroads of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. You might even spot one while you’re rafting down the Ocoee River with Carolina Ocoee white water rafting. But the best time to see one is before dawn and after dusk. Their main habits consist of eating and running from predators such as coyotes and bobcats. During the day they rest while their nocturnal feedings digests. Read more about the white-tailed deer at the Wildlife Resources Agency of Tennessee.
The wildlife above are just a few of the many animals that inhabit the Cherokee National Forest, the Ocoee River Basin, and surrounding areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When you visit, keep your eyes peeled, and you might just spot one! Book a trip with Carolina Ocoee today.