The temperate forests of North America are either “deciduous,” meaning that their trees lose their leaves in Fall and regrow them in Spring and “boreal,” having cold-tolerant evergreen conifers with needle-like leaves.
The raccoon is a familiar and abundant mammal living near water throughout North and South America and in a few tropical islands. They live in a variety of habitats, including marshes, forests, prairies, cities, and suburbs. These nocturnal (active at night) animals have a life span of about 6 years in the wild. Raccoons have adapted well to the rapid changes made in their habitat during the 20th Century and today are seen even in cities, scavenging in trash cans for food. The raccoon is stocky but agile, with thick, grayish fur and a bushy tail, ringed with black bands. Its pointed face is characterized by its familiar black "bandit" mask across its eyes.
A porcupine is a thick set animal of the rodent family which inhabit forests, deserts, and grasslands of North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It is slow and clumsy, but climbs trees readily to feed on buds, twigs and bark. In summer, it also feeds on roots and stems of flowering plants and even on some crops. A prickly coat of needle-sharp quills protects the porcupine from its natural enemies. Normally, the quills lay flat, but when an enemy approaches, the porcupine will raise the quills and spread them, usually deterring the enemy. If the enemy attacks, the quills lodge into its flesh when it makes contact with the porcupine. The porcupine cannot throw its quills, as is sometimes believed.
The skunk is a member of the weasel family and is the smelliest of all mammals! A skunk is easily recognized by the two white stripes that run the length of its black back and join at its head. Skunks have small heads and eyes, long pointed snouts, short legs and bushy tails. They are slow-moving animals, poor climbers, excellent diggers and are nocturnal. They live in forests, semi-open country, bush lands, and in locations having a water supply within two miles in regions north from South and Central America throughout North America, except in North America’s coldest regions. Skunks produce a very stinky spray that repels most predators and offends almost everyone else. This oily, yellow liquid is produced in two glands located under the skunk’s tail. They can spray up to 10 ft (3 m) away, and the odor from the spray extends far beyond that range. The skunk’s offensive odor is long-lasting and very hard to eliminate (scrubbing with tomato juice helps!).
The red fox is found in the forests of North America from coast to coast. Resembling a small, slender dog, it is a shy, nervous nocturnal animal that tries to remain hidden from view. A fox has large ears, a long bushy tail, sharp curved claws, sharp teeth, and beautiful, thick insulating fur. The fox’s long, bushy tail helps it to change direction quickly and keeps the fox's feet and nose warm when it curls up to sleep. Foxes grow from 14 to 39 inches (36 to 99 cm) long, with a tail that extends an additional 7 to 20 inches (18 to 51 cm) long. Unlike the dog, the fox is equipped with furred foot pads. Foxes dig their dens 10 to 30 feet (3 to 9 m) long in sandy or gravely soil, with two or three alternate entrances. They remain together as family units until autumn when the pups leave the dens to forage for themselves.