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The highly varied topography of the area and abundance of surface and ground water contribute to a diversity of habitats that support a wide variety and abundance of wildlife.
The most abundant large mammals are mule and white-tailed deer. Pronghorn antelope can be found in smaller numbers. Coyotes are common and are hunted for their pelts and for sport. Bob cats and foxes can be found in small numbers. Lakes and streams are home to muskrats, beaver, and mink. Other mammals found here are porcupines, badger, opossum, raccoons, prairie dogs, pocket gophers, skunks, squirrels, weasels, rabbits, kangaroo rats, moles, voles, shrews and bats.
The area streams and lakes are home to many varieties of fish. Game fish, primarily yellow perch, northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill and carp have been introduced into many lakes. Trout, channel catfish, flathead chub and river carpsucker can be found in the streams and rivers. Some rare fish species, disjunct from their principal northern range, include the blacknose shiner, pearl dace, northern redbelly dace and finescale dace. These species are less tolerant of habitat change and are now restricted to the fairly stable headwaters of Sandhill streams.
There are several amphibians and reptiles found in the area, including salamanders, toads, frogs, turtles, lizards and snakes. The ornate box turtle is probably the most well known reptile and can often be seen crossing the roads. Blanding turtles, a northern species, appear to be fairly abundant in the area lakes and marshes. Common snakes are the bull snake and western hognose snake. The prairie rattlesnake is the region’s only venomous snake and can be found around prairie dog towns or areas with rock outcrops.
Insects are abundant in the area but have not been studied extensively. They are important as pollinators, decomposers, grazers and food for other wildlife. Many varieties of butterflies can be seen here and also many species of scarab beetles. The burying beetle, listed on the federal and state endangered list, is still found in the Sandhills in significant numbers.
For a listing of many of the sandhills wildlife inhabitants see: http://www.thenebraskasandhills.com/Animals.html