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Animals that Live in a Lake

Animals that live in lakes or beside a lake have different needs than animals that live on land.

The water is cold, and the food supply may be limited. If you are an animal living near a lake, you will need to adapt your behavior to survive.

There are a lot of different species there. You’ll find fish, turtles, frogs, birds, snakes, insects, etc.

Freshwater habitats of lakes are home to many types of animals. These include animals like minks, beavers, otters, and birds like herons, geese, and ducks. With so many different kinds of animals living together, it can be an interesting place for watching wildlife.

If you want to learn more about the animals living around lakes, keep reading!

Alligator

Alligators are large reptiles in the Crocodilia family. There are two extant species, the American alligator and the Chinese alligator.

Freshwater alligators are found in slow-moving bodies of water like rivers and lakes. Usually, they live in freshwater habitats with a lot of surface vegetation on a mucky substrate.

They eat fish, insects, snails, crustaceans, and worms and will also take larger prey items as they mature. They are the apex predator throughout their distribution and may determine the abundance of prey species, including turtles and coypu.

Facts for Kids
Facts for Kids

Aquatic Salamanders

Salamanders are a group of amphibians with lizard-like appearances, short limbs projecting at right angles to the body, and a tail. Some species are fully aquatic throughout their lives, while others take to the water intermittently.

The skin of salamanders is moist and smooth to the touch and may be drab or brightly colored, exhibiting various patterns of stripes, bars, spots, blotches, or dots.

On the lake floor, they camouflage themselves by hiding among the vegetation.

Salamanders are opportunistic predators that eat almost any organism of a reasonable size. They can sometimes resort to cannibalism, especially when resources are short or time is limited.

Many salamanders have cryptic colors that are unnoticeable, but some species signal their toxicity by their vivid coloring. The red eft, a juvenile form of the eastern newt, is highly poisonous and is avoided by birds and snakes.

Bat

You’ll often find bats around lakes because they provide a lot of food. 

Bats are mammals that have evolved wings on their forelimbs. The smallest bat is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, and the largest bat is the giant golden-crowned flying fox.

Microbats have long snouts to accommodate large incisors and canines, and megabats have long snouts to accommodate large eye sockets and ears. 

Most microbats in temperate areas prey on insects, including flies, mosquitos, beetles, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, termites, bees, wasps, mayflies, and caddisflies. Bats living in high latitudes eat more energy-dense prey than tropical bats.

Bittern

Bitterns nest in reeds and wetlands near rivers and lakes.

They eat frogs, grasshoppers, crickets, and small fish. In swamps, marshes, and reed beds, you’ll find water scorpions, crayfish, and small animals.

The bird likes to keep to itself and is very secretive. Most of the time, it hides in dense vegetation, so it’s hard to get a good look at it.

Males defend nesting territories with booming calls and may hold their heads low and fluff their sides.

Bluegill Fish

Freshwater bluegills can grow up to 12 inches long and weigh about four pounds. The creature feeds on small aquatic insects and baitfish. 

Bluegills are popular panfish among anglers and like to hide around old tree stumps and aquatic plants.

It’s a fish that is noted for having a black spot on its gills and base of its dorsal fin and for having a dark shade of blue on its head and chin.

They live in shallow waters of lakes and ponds and are often found near fallen logs, water weeds, or other structures that are underwater. 

Bluegills eat a variety of insects, zooplankton, shrimp, crayfish, leeches, other worms, snails, and small fish and are prey to much larger fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, trout, muskellunge, turtles, northern pike, yellow perch, walleye, catfish, and even larger bluegill.

Beaver

Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents that are found in freshwater habitats such as rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. They build dams and lodges using tree branches, vegetation, rocks, and mud, and their infrastructure creates wetlands used by many other species.

They prefer slower-moving streams with a gradient of one percent and prefer wider streams over narrower ones.

They use trees and shrubs as a building material for dams and lodges and can fell trees 15 cm wide or less in under 50 minutes. They use their powerful jaw and neck muscles to cut and carry tree branches.

Beavers are herbivores and generalists, and during the spring and summer, they eat mainly herbaceous plant material. In the fall and winter, they eat more bark and cambium of woody plants and may cache their food for the winter.

Caddisfly

Caddisflies are a group of aquatic and terrestrial insects. They are divided into two suborders, Integripalpia and Annulipalpia, and a third suborder, Spicipalpia, which may not be monophyletic.

They are found worldwide and are associated with bodies of fresh water. They live in the damp litter of the woodland floor.

Caddisfly larvae make nets, which are silken webs stretching between aquatic vegetation and over stones. These nets serve as food traps and retreats.

 Catfish

Catfishes are fish with long barbels on their mouths that resemble cat whiskers. They may also have spines on their bodies that can cause painful injuries to the unsuspecting.

They are bottom dwellers and scavengers and may exhibit various types of parental care. The brown bullhead builds and guards a nest and protects its young, while male sea catfishes carry the marble-sized eggs in their mouths.

Catfishes vary considerably in size, from small aquarium fishes to large food fishes. The blue catfish can reach 1.5 meters in length and 68 kilograms, while the channel catfish can reach 1 meter and 12 kilograms.

Chinook Salmon

The Chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, Quinnat salmon, Tsumen, spring salmon, chrome hog, Blackmouth, and Tyee salmon, is an anadromous fish native to the North Pacific Ocean and the river systems of western North America.

The Chinook is a salmon with a blue-green, red, or purple back and top of the head, silvery sides and white ventral surfaces, and black spots on its tail and upper half of its body. It can reach 130 lb.

Chinook salmon spend one to eight years in the ocean before returning to their home rivers to spawn. The female salmon lay her eggs in four to five nesting pockets within a redd, and the male salmon develop canine-like teeth, and a pronounced curve or hook called a “kype.”


Clam

Clams are bivalves with two separate sections, which are close by two adductor muscles situated at opposite ends of the shell. They live in sandy or muddy bottoms and rarely travel over the bottom, as do some other bivalves.

Bottom feeders, these animals live in the sediment of lakes.

Most often found in freshwater bodies, they feed on algae. They use their siphons to filter water and catch food from algae, plankton, or decaying plants.

Clams have two tubes, the siphons, that draw in and expel water, and have cilia that strain food from the water and transport it to the mouth. They can range in size from 0.1 mm to 1.2 meters across.

Climbing Perch

The climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) is an amphibious freshwater fish native to Far Eastern Asia. It has been discovered on Saibai Island and other small Australian islands and is believed to be invading new territories by slipping aboard fishing boats.

Freshwater habitats like rivers and lakes are suitable for climbing perch.

Their gills, mouth, and intestines allow them to breathe. Air can enter the fish’s digestive tract because it is specially adapted. Like a mammal’s respiratory system, their intestines absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

Common Carp

Common carps are big fish with rounded bodies. In addition, it has a single pair of ‘barbels’ in its mouth.

The common carp is a large, heavy, deep-bodied fish that grows up to a meter in length. It is omnivorous and lives in weedy ponds, flooded gravel pits, and lakes.

Cormorant

Cormorants are water birds that inhabit seacoasts, lakes, and rivers. They lay two to four eggs that hatch in three to five weeks, and the young mature in the third year.

Cormorants and shags are medium-to-large birds. The pygmy cormorant is 45 cm long and weighs 340 g, while the flightless cormorant is 100 cm (39 in) long and weighs 5 kg (11 lb).

All cormorants are fish-eaters and dive from the surface to forage. They’re great swimmers and divers. Swimming underwater or plunging from a height, they will chase fish.

Crayfish

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans. They live in brooks and streams, marshes, and swamps and eat decomposing animals and plants.

Lobsters, mudbugs, yabbies, and crawdads are some local names for crayfish.

Crayfish are invasive species in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and New Zealand. They may spread to other bodies of water because they are released from one river into another.

Male adults are massive either in length or width. Males are about 16 cm long, and females are about 12 cm long. Larger specimens have been recorded, such as 95mm carapaces.

Cricket

Crickets are small to medium-sized insects with spherical heads, long slender antennae, two large compound eyes, three ocelli on the forehead, a trapezoidal pronotum, long cerci on the abdomen, and a cylindrical ovipositor.

The wings of crickets are made of tough chitin and are used for protection and sound production.

There are many kinds of habitats for them, including the canopy of trees, bushes, grasses, and herbs

Deepwater Sculpin

The deepwater sculpin is an at-risk fish species in Canada. The deepwater sculpin is a bottom-feeding species that can reach 9 inches in length. They are vulnerable to contaminants in polluted lakes.

It’s a fish that occurs in cold, deep lakes in areas that were formerly glaciated or with proglacial lake connections. It is found in lakes Nipigon, Ontario, Superior, Fairbank, Huron, and Erie, and in Lac des Îles and Roddick lakes.

They eat crustaceans Mysis and Diporeia and chironomid larvae.

Dragonfly

A dragonfly is a flying insect they have with an elongated body, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, and a pair of multifaceted compound eyes. They are agile flyers and have brilliant iridescent or metallic colors.

They are stronger fliers than damselflies and have huge bulging eyes that give them a field of vision approaching 360 degrees. They can stay put and attack their prey at high speed.

They have many common names, including hawkers, petaltails, and clubtails. They are also known as “snake doctors” and “devil’s darning needle” and present no danger to humans.

Duck

Ducks are small, short-necked, large-billed waterfowl that have a distinctive waddling gait. They are divided into three major groups, dabbling (shallow-water), diving, and perching ducks, based on their characteristic behaviors.

They have a long neck, broad body, strong legs, and a bill with serrated pectens. Ducks are found on every continent except Antarctica and have a cosmopolitan distribution.

Ducks have many predators, including predatory birds, fish, and other aquatic hunters. Their nests are raided by land-based predators, including foxes and owls.

Eel

Eels are snake-like animals that live in lakes, rivers, and oceans. They range in length from 10 cm (4 inches) to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet). 

They are found in freshwater and are of major economic importance. Most eels live in shallow waters of the ocean and burrow into sand, mud, or rocks.

Eels eat insects, worms, and water snails. As they grow, they eat fish and meat, like small birds and ducklings. Eels use their noses rather than their eyes to hunt. They can detect food sources from a long distance with their tube nostrils protruding above their upper lip.

Egret

Egrets are members of the genera Egretta and Ardea and are distinguished from herons by their long, filamentous feathers.

Little Egrets have attractive white plumes on their crests, backs, and chests, black legs and bills, and yellow feet. 

They are long-legged wading birds that feed while wading quietly in the shallow waters of pools, marshes, and swamps. They nest in rough platforms of sticks constructed in bushes or trees near water.

Egrets live in both freshwater and saltwater environments. They often nest on islands that are isolated from threats, such as raccoons, using sticks as nests.

Fiddler Crab

Fiddler crabs are small crabs, the largest being slightly over two inches (5 cm) across. They are found along sea beaches and brackish intertidal mud flats, lagoons, and swamps.

Fiddler crabs shed their shells as they grow, and if they lose a claw, a new one will grow on the opposite side.

These guys live for no more than two years and use their major claw to perform a wagging display as a form of attracting females.

Flamingo

The Flamingo stands on one leg and tucks the other one under and may also stamp its webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom. They are capable flyers and may require wing clipping to prevent escape.

Flamingos obtain their color from aqueous bacteria and beta-carotene in their diets. Without enough carotene, captive flamingos can turn pale pink.

American flamingos are omnivores that filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae as well as insect larvae, small insects, mollusks, and crustaceans. Carotenoids in their diet of animal and plant plankton give them their pink color.

They live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. They form strong partnerships and vigorously defend their nesting sites, with both the male and female contributing to building the nest and protecting the nest and egg.