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Mammals are an extremely diverse class of animals, ranging from bats, squirrels and rabbits to bobcats, dolphins and humans.

All mammals are warm-blooded vertebrates that give birth to and nurse live young; have highly evolved skeletons; are covered with hair at some point in their lives; and generally have two pairs of limbs (although some aquatic mammals have evolved without hind limbs).

Many different types of mammals live in or visit the Chesapeake Bay region. Some live either on land or in the water, while others spend time in both environments.

Click on the images below to learn about some of the mammals that live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Unlike many other mammals, aquatic mammals have no fur and have a thick layer of blubber. The Chesapeake Bay is home to several mammals that spend their entire lives in the water, including dolphins and the occasional wayward manatee.

Some mammals divide their time between land and water. Their waterproof—often oily—fur allows them to stay warm while in the water. These semi-aquatic species include beavers, muskrats and river otters.

A variety of land mammals live in the Bay watershed, from the small meadow vole to the large American black bear. While some of these animals are able to swim, they spend the majority of their lives on land. Land mammals include deer, squirrels, rabbits and foxes.

While bats are the only mammals truly able to fly, others can “fly” by gliding for short distances using flaps on skin on either side of their body. Many species of bats, as well as the southern flying squirrel, can be found throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

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