Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Flora and Fauna at Carolina Sandhills NWR

Pitcher Plant. Credit: USFWS

Pitcher Plant. Credit: USFWS

The Refuge supports a wide variety of plants and animals including 190 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 41 species of reptiles, and 25 species of amphibians. Several state and federally listed threatened and endangered species are found on the Refuge, including the pine barrens tree frog and the red-cockaded woodpecker. Species of special concern include Bachman's sparrow, southern hognose snake, Swainson's warbler, gopher snake, Well's pixie moss, sweet pitcher plant, Pine Barrens gentian, white-wicky, Chuck-will's widow, red-headed woodpecker, brown-headed nuthatch, Southeastern American kestrel, northern bobwhite, and eastern fox squirrel.



The Birds of Carolina Sandhills...

Because birding is so popular at Carolina Sandhills NWR, bird watching is a separate section on this site. Learn about the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker on the refuge by clicking on the link below.

Red-cockaded woodpecker

Carolina Sandhills NWR Bird Checklist

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The Mammals of Carolina Sandhills

  • Eastern Fox Squirrel -- In the land pine habitat of the Refuge you may see the eastern fox squirrel. This amazingly huge squirrel may weigh nearly three pounds, and measure about two feet in length. It is sometimes initially mistaken for a fox. The eastern fox squirrel spends most of its time on the ground foraging for nuts, and fruits, which it may eat immediately or store for later use.
  • River Otter -- The pools and lakes of the Refuge are the best place to spot these popular mammals. A member of the weasel family, the river otter can grow to four feet in length and weigh up to 25 pounds. The otter builds its den in the river bank or a hollow log. Its webbed feet allot it to swim faster than most fish, its primary food.
  • Beaver -- The beaver is North America's largest rodent. Beavers apparently mate for life, breeding in January and February. They build lodges with sticks and mud, complete with underwater entrances. Then they construct dams to maintain the water level at their lodge. The importance of these dams for flood control and soil conditioining has only recently been recognized. The beaver eat only plants, including bark, twigs, and leaves from a variety of trees and shrubs such as poplar, maple, pine, and scrub oaks.
  • White-tailed Deer -- White-tailed deer have more flexible habitat needs than most wildlife species. They can be found in several areas at Carolina Sandhills NWR, including the upland hardwood and pine habitats. Deer feed primarily by browsing; their diet includes leaves, twigs, fruits, and nuts. Restoration efforts such as improved habitat management have resulted in an increased deer population at the Refuge.

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The Amphibians and Reptiles of Carolina Sandhills...

Please note that all reptiles and amphibians on the Refuge are protected; collecting or harassing of any species without a permit is prohibited.

Amphibians -- The amphibians you'll see at Carolina Sandhills include toads, “true” frogs, tree frogs, and salamanders. All these species share a fundamental attachment to water. All the amphibians place their eggs either in the water or in very moist places. So, the best places to look for amphibians will be the many tributaries or the man-made ponds that exist on the Refuge.

Reptiles -- Many of the reptiles are found close to the many small bodies of water on the refuge, however, unlike the amphibians, reptiles are not linked to the water to reproduce and deposit eggs. During the warmer months, be alert for species of reptiles crossing the numerous roads that crisscross the refuge.

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The Plants of Carolina Sandhills...

To date more than 750 species of plants have been identified at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Of special interest are the carnivorous pitcher plants, which you can find at the Oxpen area. Young boys especially find these plants, which actually trap and devour flies and other insects, a special treat when visiting Carolina Sandhills.

Common Flowering Plants Brochure

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The Butterflies and Dragonflies of Carolina Sandhills...

The plant and wildflower diversity on Carolina Sandhill NWR supports a diverse collection of pollinators, including native bees, dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies. Watching these insects can be similar to birding! Good areas to view these species include woodland trails, wetlands or ponds, and the field of the Oxpen area.

Butterflies and Dragonflies Brochure


Last updated: August 21, 2012