If you live near a lake, you probably know that it is teeming with wildlife. But have you ever wondered exactly what types of wildlife may be filling the waters? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the animals that live in lakes.
What You'll Learn Today
Animals That Live In A Lake
Fish are at the top of this list, for obvious reasons.
There are hundreds if not thousands of species of freshwater fish, and they inhabit lakes around the world. In fact, fish are perhaps the most common type of animal found in lakes.
Some fish that typically live in lakes include catfish, lake herring, lake trout, and even certain types of eels.
Check out this video to learn more about how to identify various freshwater fish species:
2. Snakes and Turtles
There are several species of water snake found in North America alone, and even more that can be found in other parts of the world.
Many of these aquatic snakes, such as the cottonmouth, are venomous, while others are harmless. Many of these snakes are semi-aquatic, meaning they live both on land and in the water; others are fully aquatic and spend all of their time in the lake they call home.
Turtles are often commonly found in lakes. Most are semi-aquatic, though some may spend the majority of their time in the water.
Some common lake turtles found throughout North America include the snapping turtle and the painted turtle.
3. Alligators and Crocodiles
Alligators and crocodiles are both semi-aquatic reptiles that spend much of their time in the water.
These large lizards can live both in freshwater and saltwater environments; those living in lakes typically are exposed to freshwater.
They will lurk in the water for hours at a time, mostly submerged and sitting perfectly still as they wait for their next meal to get close. Then, with lightning speed, they will lash out and snap their powerful jaws on their unfortunate victim.
4. Swans and Other Birds
There are a variety of waterfowl that hang out in and around most of the world’s lakes.
Swans are some of the most beautiful and iconic water birds. There are many different species of swan, and they inhabit lakes and other wetlands throughout much of the world.
Other birds commonly found in lakes include ducks, geese, gulls, and egrets. All of these birds build their nests on the shore and spend much of their time swimming and foraging for food in the water.
Yet another aquatic bird found in some lakes is the flamingo. It is known for its pink coloration, which comes from pigments in the fish they eat.
You may also find herons, storks, and other large birds living near lakes and spending time in the water.
Various amphibians are known for inhabiting lakes.
Frogs are some of the most well-known lake amphibians, as many different kinds of frogs inhabit lakes and fill spring and summer nights with their distinctive croaking noises.
Some toads also live in and near lakes.
A variety of salamanders may also call your favorite lake home. These can include the aquatic salamander and the newt.
All of these animals begin their lives as fully aquatic juveniles, and as they morph into adulthood, they begin to spend some time out of the water as well.
6. Snails and Leeches
Snails prefer damp, shady areas to begin with, and there are many types of snails that are specifically found in the water.
Snails feed mostly on decaying plant matter at the bottom of lakes, and many species will lay their eggs in the water, even if the babies that emerge are only semi-aquatic.
Another common species found in many lakes is the leech. Known for their blood-sucking abilities, these large, flat, slug-like worms can be found in many freshwater lakes and other wetlands throughout the world.
There are a variety of crustaceans that may call the fresh waters of your local lake home. These can include crayfish, clams, opossum shrimp, and fiddler crabs.
These creepy looking creatures are primarily bottom-feeders that will eat decaying plant and animal matter on the bottom of the lake. Depending on the species, they will spend most or all of their lives in the water.
You probably think of insects as being land creatures, but there are actually many species that live in the water.
Some of these, such as the dragonfly and mosquito, only spend their early lives in lakes. Their eggs are laid in the water, and they spend their nymph or larval stage there, only to emerge as adults and leave the water behind.
Others, such as water striders or pond skaters, spend the majority of their lives in and around the water.
9. Other Invertebrates
Various types of spiders live in or near lakes. Many spiders are excellent swimmers and can stay underwater for long periods of time due to their ability to create pockets of air around their bodies.
Zooplankton live in some lakes and are a major source of food for other animals. They are tiny single-celled animals that tend to group together.
Aside from snails, some species of mollusks also live in lakes. These creatures have soft bodies; some have shells, while others do not.
Aside from leeches, other types of worms are also found in lakes. These creatures are known as nematoda and planaria.
Finally, several types of sponges can be found in lakes. The Spongilla Lacustris is the most common freshwater sponge, while various other species can be found in saltwater lakes.
10. Beavers and Other Mammals
Beavers are well-known wetland dwellers. Though they often live in rivers, creating dams to alter the river’s flow, they can also be found in lakes.
Beavers build lodges in the water where they live. Though they are not fully aquatic, they spend the majority of their lives in the water.
Other mammals commonly found in and near lakes include the muskrat, the mink, and the otter. All of these animals are typically found living in nests and burrows onshore, but all of them spend much of their time swimming and hunting in lakes.
There are many, many kinds of animals that live in lakes, and we’ve only scratched the surface with this article. Some of the animals that spend their lives in or near your favorite lake include fish, snakes, alligators, frogs, waterfowl, insects and invertebrates, and beavers and other mammals.