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Animals of the Arb

Quinn shares some animal sightings and the biodiversity in the arb.

Quinn shares some animal sightings and the biodiversity in the arb.

I love walking in the Arboretum and exploring the different trails and hidden spots throughout the different regions and seasons. Because of the sheer amount of time I spend in the arb, I have run into many different animal species. As a suburbanite who has still spent a good amount of time in the great outdoors, some of these animals were familiar, but others I saw for the first time in the wild! Obviously there are a lot of animals and not nearly enough space in this blog post, so I will point out some important ones on campus (amateur photography courtesy of me).


Canada Goose

A notorious campus resident, the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) takes over the Lyman Lakes from February to November. Especially toward the end of spring term, when they are nesting, the geese become rather defensive. Residents of Goodhue or anyone wanting to visit the Rec Center have to watch where they walk and hope a pack of hissing geese don’t block their path!

Two geese (and goslings!) near the Spring Creek

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is found in and around the bodies of water at Carleton. I often spot the heron resting or fishing in the Cannon River, but will occasionally venture closer to campus and instead visit the Lyman Lakes. This photo was taken on the small waterfall between the two lakes. One of my favorite animals to spot soaring over campus! 

A heron perched on the waterfall between Lyman Lakes


American Beaver

American Beaver (Castor canadensis) visits many areas of Carleton, but is rarely seen. Most often, you will notice the handiwork of the beaver—a pile of wood shavings around a well-gnawed tree. The beaver will, however, occasionally pop up in the Cannon River or may be spotted in the Lyman Lakes. In the winter, it will occasionally try to dam the Spring Creek, only to be removed (certainly to the chagrin of the beaver).

two beavers in the winter
Two beavers by the Cannon River

White-tailed Deer

For a quiet observer, one can often stumble upon one of the herds of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) wandering in the upper or lower arb. Since the arb is a State Game Refuge and hunting in the arb is restricted to permit-only bow hunting for a few weeks, the arb offers a safe haven for these creatures. Without large predators, however, the deer population will explode, which can create some problems in the arb. Small shrubs and sapling trees will often be the target of hungry deer, so the arb crew is vigilant in protecting the youngest flora. 

A White-tail in the Upper Arb


American Toad 

Another common campus denizen is the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). They can be found in any region of the arb, enjoying areas near water. Unlike frogs, they are spotted more frequently hopping around campus—I spotted this one nearby Bell Field. At home, I have a small pond which is annually invaded by at least one American Toad. 

A toad, chilling on a sidewalk

Green Frog

The Green Frog (Rana clamitans) is one of the several species of frog in the arb. Often living in bodies of water, the green (which can also be brown-ish) frog can be found in many arb locations. Arguably they are most notable near the Kettle Hole Marsh, where they are joined by many other frog species in a loud chorus following the spring thaw. They are often easy to spot in shallower water and enjoy spending time in the Spring Creek, which is where I found this one. 

A Green Frog hiding in some algae


Albino Squirrel 

While not living in the arb, the albino squirrel is a Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) who lives in the neighborhood near the Weitz Center for Creativity. Though gray squirrels are common in the eastern half of the country, albino ones are a rare sight. While some believe a black cat crossing your path is bad luck, Northfield’s white squirrel is certainly good luck!

Albino Squirrel
The elusive albino squirrel!

Final Thoughts

The arb is a wonderful place to escape from the hustle and bustle of campus life. I often like to take inspiration from the animals I see, who remind me that there is more to life than grades and classes. Sometimes you have to take it easy, enjoy nature, and live a little!

Quinn (he/they) is a junior studying Political Science and International RelationsEnvironmental Studies, and History. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, they enjoy walking barefoot in the Arb, looking for free snacks in department lounges, and searching for their next favorite book in the library. Outside of work and school, they are the Treasurer of the Carleton Student Association (student government). There, they oversee the budget as well as work with the Student Activities Office to manage clubs on campus. Meet the other Bloggers!