Today in honor of the Easter Bunny...and all his furry friends that are seen this time of year...I thought we would talk about this bouncy critter as well as his friend the squirrel.
Eastern cottontails occur in the eastern half of the country. They prefer brushy cover interspersed with Stage 3. Eastern cottontails are also found in suburban areas, parks, golf courses and stream corridors. Eastern cottontails represent prey for the majority of carnivorous predators within its range. They are prolific breeders, however, as female may have seven litters per year, with 3 to 6 young per litter. This is required to perpetuate populations as 70 percent to 80 percent of all rabbits die each year.
Diet: forbs and grasses (Stages 2 and 3), browse, and soft mast from spring through fall; in winter, bark of shrubs and trees, as well as buds, grain and browse
Water: necessary water obtained from diet
Cover: shrub cover, brush piles, native perennial warm-season grasses and forbs (Stage 3) for loafing and escape cover; burrows are also used for denning and escape
Eastern gray squirrel
The Eastern gray squirrel lives primarily in Stage 6 deciduous forests and woodlands. They also forage along the edge of crop fields, especially harvested cornfields. These squirrels have adapted to parks and other urban areas where mature trees are available. Eastern gray squirrels forage both in trees and on the ground. They den in cavities of mature trees and also build nests generally 30 feet or more above ground. Eastern gray squirrels will use nest boxes, but they are not necessary since nests are built in the absence of cavities; thus, available cavities are not a limiting factor for population growth.
Diet: a variety of hard and soft mast, miscellaneous seeds, grains, bark, buds and mushrooms; they may also eat eggs
Water: necessary water is generally obtained through diet, but free-standing water is also used
Cover: Stage 6 forest and woodlands; suburban and urban areas with mature trees; den in tree cavities and also build nests of leaves and twigs
We also learned a lot about the different groupings for the management techniques...thank you to Ms. Renee! I will have that for everyone next week!
Then we went out on the trails and examined the canopy for density and the ability for light to come in through the tops of the trees. Everything looked great for the squirrels and other wildlife. A great time was had by all as we discovered an old bike trail with ramp to take a group picture out in the nature we all love!