Baltic Fund for Nature

Rare and interesting mammals of the Ladoga region

Order Chiroptera

In the Lake Ladoga area the order is represented by 8 species of which 7 are included in Red Data Books. Bats are most common in the south and west of the Lake Ladoga area, with only 4 species (northern, brown long-eared, daubenton and whiskered bats) occurring in Karelia. Worth mentioning are the captures of noctule and parti-coloured bat at the Svir bay area (Gumbaritsy). The only Chiroptera wintering ground known in the Lake Ladoga area is Staroladozhskije caves in the Volkhovsky district.

Order Insectivora

The limits of the European hedgehog distribution range run along the Neva river, Ladoga southern shore and the river Volkhov. Only occasional findings have been recorded further to the north and east (the animals probably brought there by people). Common mole on the contrary is quite wide-spread, being a backgroud species for the region.

Shrews are the most abundant mammals, their numbers being greater than those of all other animals taken together. The dominant species in this group are common, pigmy and Laxmann's shrews occurring throughout the forest biotopes. On the other hand, least and even-toothed shrews are rare on the Karelian shore of Lake Ladoga. Water shrew is a common inhabitant of the lakes and watercourses of the area.

Order Lagomorpha

Alpine hare is a typical inhabitant of forests. It is present in large numbers in the most varied types of forested land. The species prefers young mixed stands on forest margins and in felled areas, streamside spruce forests, mixed spruce-birch forests, river banks and lake shores. The abundance fluctuates considerably across years.

European hare is relatively new in the region in question. Its abundance is several hundred times lower than that of Alpine hare.

Order Rodentia

Red squirrel is abundant is coniferous and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests. It occurs throughout the Lake Ladoga area. Its highest densities are observed in the north-west of the region, where much of the territory is dominated by spruce. The abundance and distribution strongly depend on the yield of spruce and pine seeds. Mass migrations of squirrels, particularly noticeable along the Ladoga shore, are observed in the low-production years.

Russian flying squirrel is rare throughout the region. It most commonly dwells in forests with the admixture of aspen, where tree-hollows are available as shelter. Occasionally settles in artificial bird nests.

Two beaver species occur in the Lake Ladoga area. At present the European beaver, after being re-introduced on the territory of the Leningrad region in 50s - 60s, has populated the southern part of the Karelian isthmus, south and south-east of the Lake Ladoga area.

American beaver is an introduced species. It penetrated the north-west of the Lake Ladoga area (Sortavalsky and Priozersky districts) from Finland in the early 1950's. Thereupon, it started spreading actively through the northern half of the Karelian isthmus and northern Lake Ladoga area. By the 1980's the species reached the vicinity of Pitkaranta and the Olonetsky district where it met the European beaver spreading from the south (Danilov, Kan'shijev, 1983). Interrelations between the two close species are not yet known.

Muskrat is another introduced species. It was acclimatized in the north-west Russia in the 1930's-40's. Is currently one of the background species in all water bodies of the Leningrad region and Karelia rich in aquatic vegetation. Is also quite common in the Lake Ladoga area, where it populates both inland lakes and rivers, and the Ladoga shore. Preferred habitats are the Svir bay and Svir river estuary, as well as quite many localities on the southern and western shore sections.

The most abundant among the 15 Muridae species is the bank vole. This species, which came to the taiga zone from deciduous forests, is now many times more abundant than any other representative of the group.

The second abundant species in the north-east of the Lake Ladoga area is field vole which is also of southern provenance. Gray red-backed and northern red-backed voles, wood lemming as well as yellow-necked field mouse are rather rare. Other Muridae species are spread throughout the area.

Order Carnivora

European wolf has always been a common inhabitant in the Lake Ladoga area forests. Its highest population densities are observed in the north and north-east of the area. The abundance of the predator has markedly increased in the recent years as the expensive control measures became less intensive.

Red fox is common in the area, though it avoids continuous forest areas. Its preferred habitats are a combination of mixed forests with fields, meadows and mires. In the Leningrad region the species is most common in the south of the Karelian isthmus, in Karelia - in the Olonetsky and Pitkarantsky districts.

Racoon dog was introduced to the Leningrad region in 1936 and 50 mammals were released the same year in Boksitogorsky district. However, more important conwequenses for Priladozhie area had the release of 82 dogs in Pryozersky district in 1953, after wich the species has spread widely, into Karelian territory as well. It is now one of common species in the Lake Ladoga area. Most often dwells in mixed forests close to lakes, rivers and mires. The abundance is relatively low.

Until recently, the native European mink used to be a typical inhabitant of rivers, streams and lakes in the Lake Ladoga area, however it is almost tatally displaced by American mink.

American mink was released in 1958, and spread rapidly throughout the area. Its population is continually replenished by animals escaping from fur animal farms.

River otter is another "Red Book" mustelid species. In the Lake Ladoga area it regularly occurs on the northern and north-eastern shores and the rivers flowing there. This area may be considered a valuable otter conservation area in the north-west Russia.

Pine marten is a typical dweller of old-growth coniferous and mixed forests. Its abundance in the north of the Lake Ladoga area ranges within 1.3-1.7 (tracks per 10 km of the route).

Wolverine is the largest representative of the weasel family. The area is the margin of its range. Singular encounters were recorded in the Lahdenpohsky, Pitkarantsky and Olonetsky districts of Karelia, and in the Lodejnopolsky district of the Leningrad region. Back in the mid-1970's it was observed also in the central part of the Karelian isthmus.

Brown bear is quite common throughout, being even abundant in the east and south-east of the Lake Ladoga area. E.g., Nizhne-Svirsky reserve has about 25 animals. The species is not present in the Lake Ladoga areas of the Karelian isthmus however is known from the Primorsk city and the whole Vyborgsky district. Brown bear is very rare in the south of the Lake Ladoga area.

European lynx is a rare predator, occurring however in forests in almost all of the Lake Ladoga area. Its highest abundance is recorded in the Olonetsky, Lahdenpohsky and Sortavalsky districts of Karelia.

Order Artiodactyla

European wild boar, which had lived in the north-west Russia in the remote past, started repopulating the Leningrad region in the late 1940's. Intensive expansion of the species in the north-eastern direction was observed in the 1970's-80's. In this period wild boar reached the Lake Ladoga area later spreading further into Karelia. At present, wild boar is quite common in the area.

Elk has always been a common, and until very recently - a mass component of the region's fauna. Occurs throughout the Lake Ladoga area, not avoiding densely populated areas. In the summer the animals hold to wet low-lying terrains - marshes, river valleys, wet spruce and alder forests along the shores of forest lakes. In the winter they stay in regenerating felling areas, willow thickets along bodies of water. In this season elk concentrations are observed in the southern and northern parts of the Lake Ladoga area.

European roe deer - a representative of the fauna of deciduous forests, has the northern margin of its distribution range in the south and south-west of the Leningrad region. Single individuals occasionally stray into the south of the Lake Ladoga area.

Sika deer was released in the Sosnovskoje forestry and game enterprise in 1958. Since then the herd of the animals, exceeding in some years 100 individuals, is kept in the preserve, in a territory of about 2000 ha. The animals are closely linked to artificial winter feeding sites, which they cannot survive without in our winters.

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