Unlike birds, mammals have received comparatively scant attention in Massachusetts. Except for those of sporting or economic interest and a few highly adaptable species such as the gray squirrel, most mammals were traditionally ignored or overlooked. Misconceptions and difficulties in identification have contributed to a general lack of interest, but a growing environmental awareness has awakened a new realization of the diversity, abundance, and values of the state's mammalian fauna. This list is intended to broaden that awareness. Keep in mind that many species are nocturnal, reclusive, or localized in distribution. Specific identification may also require the examination of teeth or other characters which are difficult to observe. Those species appearing on the current list of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern species in Massachusetts are indicated with an asterisk (*) .

James E. Cardoza, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife

Gwilym S. Jones, Center for Vertebrate Studies, Dept. Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Thomas W. French, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife


DIDELPHIMORPHIA: Didelphidae (New World Opossums)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Virginia OpossumDidelphis virginianaStatewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.

SIRENIA: Trichechidae (Manatees and Dugongs)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
West Indian ManateeTrichechus manatusAccidental vagrant. Sightings in Barnstable & Bristol counties, 2006 & 2008 (photographed).

RODENTIA: Sciuridae (Tree Squirrels and Marmots)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution

 

Eastern Gray Squirrel and Red Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis & Tamiasciurus hudsonicusStatewide. Recently introduced to Nantucket.
Statewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.
Northern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys sabrinusNortheastern, central and western Massachusetts. No recent records.
Southern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys volansStatewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.
WoodchuckMarmota monaxStatewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.
Eastern ChipmunkTamias striatusStatewide except Nantucket County.

RODENTIA: Castoridae (American Beaver)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
American Beaver Castor canadensisNortheastern, central & western Mass. Occasional in southeastern Mass.

RODENTIA: Dipodidae (Jumping Mice)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Woodland Jumping MouseNapaeozapus insignisCentral and western Massachusetts.
Meadow Jumping MouseZapus hudsoniusStatewide.

RODENTIA: Cricetidae (Mice, Voles, and Lemmings)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Meadow VoleMicrotus pennsylvanicusStatewide. The vole of Muskeget Is., Nantucket County, is sometimes considered a separate species, M. breweri.
Woodland VoleMicrotus pinetorumStatewide except Dukes and Nantucket counties.
Southern Red-backed VoleMyodes gapperiStatewide except Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Common MuskratOndatra zibethicusStatewide except Nantucket County.
Southern Bog Lemming pdf format of    Southern Bog Lemming  *Synaptomys cooperiReported from Franklin, Hampshire, Plymouth & Worcester counties. May occur elsewhere in areas of suitable habitat. Listed as “Special Concern”.
White-footed DeermousePeromyscus leucopusStatewide.
North American DeermousePeromyscus maniculatusCentral and western Massachusetts.

RODENTIA: Muridae (Old World Rats and Mice)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
House MouseMus musculusIntroduced. Nearly statewide; distribution spotty. Apparently absent from Martha’s Vineyard.
Brown RatRattus norvegicusIntroduced. Statewide.
Roof (Black) RatRattus rattusIntroduced. Formerly occurred in vicinity of large cities & seaports. Now eradicated.

RODENTIA: Erethizontidae (New World Porcupines)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
North American PorcupineErethizon dorsatumNortheastern, central and western Massachusetts. Recent reports from Barnstable & Plymouth counties.

LAGOMORPHA: Leporidae (Hares and Rabbits)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Black-tailed JackrabbitLepus californicusIntroduced. Now found only on Nantucket Island. May be extirpated.
Snowshoe HareLepus americanusStatewide except Dukes & possibly Nantucket counties. Also introduced, principally L. a. americanus.
European HareLepus europaeusUnsuccessfully introduced in Berkshire County and elsewhere prior to the 1930s. Now absent.
European RabbitOryctolagus cuniculusWidely introduced in the 1920s and 1930. Feral populations may still exist on some Boston Harbor islands.
Eastern CottontailSylvilagus floridanusStatewide. Introduced; principally S. f. mallurus & S. f. alacer (mearnsi).
New England CottontailSylvilagus transitionalisFormerly occurred statewide. Distribution now spotty; extirpated from Dukes & Nantucket counties.

SORICOMORPHA: Soricidae (Shrews)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Northern Short-tailed ShrewBlarina brevicaudaStatewide.
Cinereus ShrewSorex cinereusStatewide.
Long-tailed Shrew pdf format of    Rock Shrew  *Sorex disparBerkshire County only. Listed as “Special Concern”.
Smoky ShrewSorex fumeusCentral and western Massachusetts.
American Pygmy ShrewSorex hoyiOne record, Berkshire County, 1991.
American Water Shrew pdf format of    Water Shrew  *Sorex palustrisReported from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire & Worcester counties. Listed as “Special Concern”.

SORICOMORPHA: Talpidae (Moles and Shrew-Moles)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Star-nosed MoleCondylura cristataStatewide except Dukes & Nantucket counties.
Hairy-tailed MoleParascalops breweriNortheastern, central and western Massachusetts. The putative type locality of “Martha’s Vineyard” is undoubtedly erroneous.
Eastern MoleScalopus aquaticusSouthern Connecticut River valley, southern Plymouth County, and Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket counties.

CHIROPTERA: Vespertilionidae (Vesper Bats)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscusStatewide. Status hypothetical in Dukes & Nantucket counties.
Eastern Red BatLasiurus borealisMigratory. May occur statewide.
Hoary BatLasiurus cinereusMigratory. May occur statewide.
Eastern PipistrellePipistrellus subflavusStatewide. Status hypothetical in Dukes & Nantucket counties.
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagansMigratory. May occur statewide.
Eastern Small-footed Bat pdf format of    Small-footed Bat  *Myotis leibiiReported from Berkshire & Hampden counties. Listed as “Special Concern”.
Little Brown MyotisMyotis lucifugusStatewide.
Northern MyotisMyotis septentrionalisProbably statewide. Hypothetical on Nantucket.
Indiana Bat *Myotis sodalisProbably extirpated; last recorded in 1939. Reported from Berkshire, Hampden & Worcester counties. Listed as “Endangered”.

CARNIVORA: Felidae (Cats)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Domestic CatFelis catusStatewide; feral.
Canadian LynxLynx canadensisExtirpated. Recorded Hampshire County (1866) & Worcester County (1884-85). Questionable reports from 1930s may be misidentified bobcats. At least 2 records in 1991 were wandering lynx from a New York release. U.S. Threatened.
BobcatLynx rufusNortheastern, central & western Mass. Occasional records in southeastern Mass.
Cougar (Mountain Lion)
(external link)
Puma concolorExtirpated; last known record ~1858. Recent sight records are unverified. One confirmed scat, Franklin County (Quabbin Res.), in 1997. U.S. Endangered as Felis concolor couguar.

CARNIVORA: Canidae (Dogs, Foxes, and Wolves)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
CoyoteCanis latransNearly statewide, including Elizabeth Is. Absent from Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket. The taxonomy of coyotes and wolves is contentious and other classifications have been proposed.
WolfCanis lupusExtirpated from Mass. by ~1840. One later record (1918) probably an escaped captive. One record in Franklin County, 2007. U.S. Endangered as C. l. lycaon.
Domestic DogCanis lupus familiarisStatewide; occasionally feral.
Gray FoxUrocyon cinereoargenteusStatewide except Dukes, Nantucket & possibly Suffolk counties.
Red FoxVulpes vulpesDistribution in presettlement period not well known. Widely introduced from Europe in the 1700s. Now statewide except Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

CARNIVORA: Ursidae (Bears)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
American Black BearUrsus americanusNortheastern, central, and western Massachusetts.

CARNIVORA: Odobenidae (Walruses)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
WalrusOdobenus rosmarusAccidental vagrant. Recorded in Essex (1937) and Plymouth (1734) counties.

CARNIVORA: Phocidae (Earless or Hair Seals)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Hooded SealCystophora cristataAnnual vagrant; recorded from Dukes, Essex, Nantucket & Plymouth counties.
Bearded SealErignathus barbatusOne record, Essex County, 2002.
Gray SealHalichoerus grypusResident in Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket county waters. Also recorded elsewhere in Mass. as a northern vagrant.
Harp SealPagophilus groenlandicaAnnual vagrant; recorded Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, Plymouth & Suffolk counties.
Harbor SealPhoca vitulinaCoastal Massachusetts.
Ringed SealPusa hispidaRare vagrant along north coastal areas of Massachusetts.

CARNIVORA: Mustelidae (Weasels, Minks, Martens, and Otters)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
North American River OtterLontra canadensisStatewide except Nantucket and possibly Suffolk counties. Two records on Nantucket (beached carcass, 1984; tracks and tail drag mark, 2007).
WolverineGulo guloExtirpated. Reported to occur in western Massachusetts prior to 1835.
American MartenMartes americanaExtirpated. Formerly central and western Mass. Last known record, Worcester County, 1880. One vagrant from a Vermont release was taken in Worcester County in 1992. A 1993 Worcester County record is believed to be an escape from a fur farm.
FisherMartes pennantiStatewide except Dukes & Nantucket counties. Range expansion into Barnstable County first confirmed in 2006.
ErmineMustela ermineaStatewide except Dukes & Nantucket counties.
Long-tailed WeaselMustela frenataStatewide except Dukes & Nantucket counties.
American MinkNeovison visonStatewide except Nantucket County. The extinct sea mink (N. macrodon) formerly occurred in coastal Massachusetts.

CARNIVORA: Mephitidae (Skunks)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Striped SkunkMephitis mephitisStatewide except Nantucket County.

CARNIVORA: Procyonidae (Raccoons, Coatis, and Ringtails)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
RaccoonProcyon lotorStatewide except Nantucket County.

ARTIODACTYLA: Cervidae (Deer, Elk, and Moose)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
MooseAlces americanusResident in northeastern, central & western Mass. Vagrants may occur in southeastern Massachusetts.
White-tailed DeerOdocoileus virginianusStatewide.
Wapiti (Elk)Cervus elaphusExtirpated. Occurred infrequently in western Mass. in colonial times. Last known record, Worcester County, ~1732.
Fallow DeerDama damaIntroduced, Dukes County. None reported since the early 1980s.

CETACEA: Balaenidae (Right and Bowhead Whales)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Northern Right Whale*Eubalaena glacialisFormerly stranded frequently. Recorded from waters of Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket & Plymouth counties. Listed as “Endangered”.

CETACEA: Balaenopteridae (Rorqual Whales)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Common Minke WhaleBalaenoptera acutorostrataInshore waters; stranded Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth & Suffolk counties.
Sei Whale*Balaenoptera borealisStranded in Barnstable (1910 & 1974), Essex (2007), and Plymouth (1948) counties. Listed as “Endangered”.
Blue Whale*Balaenoptera musculusOne questionable stranding, Essex County, 1755. Recent near-shore records. Listed as “Endangered”.
Fin Whale*Balaenoptera physalusFormerly common offshore. Stranded in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, and Plymouth counties. Listed as “Endangered”.
Humpback Whale pdf format of    Humpback Whale  *Megaptera novaeangliaeStranded in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk counties. Listed as “Endangered”.

CETACEA: Delphinidae (Dolphins and Pilot Whales)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Short-beaked Common DolphinDelphinus delphisReported from Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes & Nantucket counties.
Short-finned Pilot WhaleGlobicephala macrorhynchusOne record, Dukes County, 1980.
Long-finned Pilot WhaleGlobicephala melasOccurs in schools, frequently stranded. Reported from Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, and Nantucket counties.
Risso’s DolphinGrampus griseusOffshore; stranded in Barnstable, Dukes & Norfolk counties.
Atlantic White-sided DolphinLagenorhynchus acutusCoastal waters; stranded in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket & Norfolk counties.
White-beaked DolphinLagenorhynchus albirostrisCoastal waters; reported from Barnstable and Essex counties.
Killer WhaleOrcinus orcaOffshore waters; stranded in Barnstable & Dukes counties; observed in Plymouth & Suffolk County waters.
Pantropical Spotted DolphinStenella attenuataFour records; coastal Massachusetts.
Striped DolphinStenella coeruleoalbaPelagic; reported from Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket & Plymouth counties.
Bottle-nose DolphinTursiops truncatusInshore waters; stranded in Barnstable & Plymouth counties.

CETACEA: Monodontidae (Belugas and Narwhals)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
BelugaDelphinapterus leucasObserved in waters of Barnstable, Dukes & Essex counties; killed in Barnstable County (prior to 1904) and stranded in Dukes County (1983).

CETACEA: Phocoenidae (Porpoises)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Harbor PorpoisePhocoena phocoenaCoastal waters; reported from Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, Plymouth & Suffolk counties.

CETACEA: Physeteridae (Sperm and Pygmy Sperm Whales)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Pygmy Sperm WhaleKogia brevicepsOffshore waters. Stranded in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Norfolk & Plymouth counties and recorded in Bristol County waters.
Dwarf Sperm WhaleKogia simaStranded in Nantucket (2009) and Plymouth (1991) counties
Sperm Whale*Physeter catodonFormerly abundant offshore. Strandings in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex, Nantucket, and Plymouth counties. Listed as “Endangered”

CETACEA: Ziphiidae (Beaked Whales)

Common NameScientific NameDistribution
Northern Bottle-nose WhaleHyperoodon ampullatusPelagic; stranded in Barnstable (1869) and Essex (1923) counties.
Sowerby’s Beaked WhaleMesoplodon bidensTwo records, Nantucket County (1867 & 1973).
Blainville’s Beaked WhaleMesoplodon densirostrisOne record, Essex County, 1898.
Gervais’ Beaked WhaleMesoplodon europaeusOne record, Barnstable County, 1997.
True’s Beaked WhaleMesoplodon mirusOne record, Nantucket County, 1982.
Cuvier’s Beaked WhaleZiphius cavirostrisPelagic; strandings in Barnstable (1958 & 1961); Norfolk (2007) & Dukes (1963) counties.