Flora & Fauna

wells national estuarine research reserve

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm protects diverse habitats that support a rich flora and fauna. Many of these plants and animals are subjects of public enjoyment and scientific study.


The harbor seal is the only marine mammal noted from the Wells Reserve, but at least 30 species of terrestrial mammals have been encountered here. Forest species have been well inventoried and include white-footed mouse, pine vole, boreal red-backed vole, woodland jumping mouse, masked shrew, short-tailed shrew, least shrew, gray squirrel, red squirrel, eastern chipmunk, and southern flying squirrel. These small mammals provide prey for red fox and coyote, both of which are fairly common. Other predatory mammals include short-tailed weasel, long-tailed weasel, fisher, striped skunk, and raccoon. Bobcat, mink, and gray fox may be occasional visitors. White-tailed deer are common in forests and fields, while moose and black bear are infrequent transients. Bats have not been formally surveyed at the reserve, but nine species can be found in southwestern Maine, including little brown myotis, long-eared myotis, big brown, eastern pipistrelle, and red bat. Additional land mammals found at the reserve include woodchuck, porcupine, meadow vole, and New England cottontail, the last of which receives special management attention. Wetland habitats, primarily riverine and salt marsh, support muskrat, mink, and occasionally river otter.


Laudholm Farm was known to be an excellent place for bird watching long before the Wells Reserve was created. Since the 1980s, 282 species have been reported on and adjacent to the lands and waters managed by the Wells Reserve. Our wide variety of habitats support diverse breeding and migratory populations and the beaches and salt marshes are included in the Wells Important Bird Area. The Wells Reserve has supported a bird-banding program since 1988 and collaborates closely with York County Audubon on a number of activities. Follow these links to learn more about the birds of the Wells Reserve:


Fifty-five fish species have been found in Wells Reserve waters. The most common are the American eel, alewife, common mummichog, Atlantic silverside, and three sticklebacks (fourspine, threespine, and ninespine). Download our fish checklist

We published Coastal Fish of Southern Maine and New Hampshire to help people get to know who swims along our shores. Buy your copy in the Laudholm Store.


Estuaries are important for many intertidal and subtidal invertebrates, notably softshell clams, green crabs, and sandworms. Wells Reserve projects have also included several focusing on insects, especially dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, and species that emerge from the salt-marsh surface.

Red fox on the lawn at Laudholm.

Red foxes occasionally can be seen patrolling the grasslands around the historic Laudholm campus.