I moved to Fort Collins in 2007, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to see a variety of wildlife that you definitely can't find back in the Midwest. While out on the trails, I’ve been really fortunate to see things like moose, rattlesnakes and lots of elk — and in my own backyard, there was even a bear. But it wasn’t until recently that I came across three other animals I have never seen during my 11 years of living here. Not to say I didn't know they existed in Northern Colorado, but was definitely surprised upon seeing them.
With all the ponds and reservoirs in the area, I've always wondered why you don't see more turtles around Fort Collins. Turns out, multiple species can be found in Colorado, including Painted Turtles and Snapping Turtles. I saw the one sunning in the pond below at Overland Park, and the City of Fort Collins recently came across a pretty big Snapping Turtle at Magpie Meander Natural Area.
During another visit to Overland Park, I freaked out a little bit when I saw something swimming quickly across the pond. My first thought was that it could be an otter, but after doing some research and looking at photos, it was actually a muskrat, which are semi-aquatic rodents and pretty common in Colorado.
Pack Rats/Wood Rats
I didn't actually (or thankfully!) see this one with my own eyes, but rather on the website Nextdoor.com, where a neighbor posted about finding what he thought, was someone's runaway chinchilla in a box by his hose. Other neighbors were quick to respond in letting him know that the critter was actually a wild pack rat, also known as a wood rat.