Wild About Wildlife

The Hidden Habitat of Moles

An unusual sight, if you’ve ever seen it while sitting or working in the garden, is a raised 3-inch wide strip of soil or grass that continues to grow longer as you watch. Once you’ve seen one you won’t be caught off guard again- you’ll know that there is a mole digging alongside you. Moles’ bodies are built to dig and live underground in their hidden habitat. Although they are small, their shovel-like clawed paws allow them to dig a tunnel 13 feet long in one hour. Moles do have eyes and internal ears but they are very small because of they live their lives underground, which is why their sense of smell is their strongest sense. Their favorite food is earthworms and, once caught, they will store earthworms in an underground chamber. Moles are solitary creatures, living on their own a month after they are born.

Resources:

Join us today for Storytime: Guess & Go! at noon on MHHM’s Facebook page to hear a mole story and learn about its life underground.

How do Moles see the world? Watch this video to find out!

Discover fun facts about the life of a mole at justfunfacts.com.

Rabbits

If you were to look outside your window, there is a chance that you would see a rabbit. In fact, rabbits are so common that they are present on every continent except for Antarctica. As herbivores, rabbits eat plant material and vegetation exclusively. They can also give birth to up to 35 baby rabbits, called kits or kittens, per year. Rabbits are social creatures that live in groups in underground tunnels called burrows.

The eastern cottontail is the most common type of rabbit in North America. It is also the type of rabbit that you are most likely to see in New Jersey. The eastern cottontail has brown fur with white spots on its back, but in the winter, its fur can become more grey than brown. It is mostly nocturnal, but will sometimes be active around dusk or dawn. Despite its small size, the eastern cottontail can jump between 10 and 15 feet.

Rabbits have a bad reputation among gardeners and farmers as they sometimes eat crops. However, you may be surprised to learn that they can actually be beneficial for growing plants. Rabbits are highly-efficient, natural composters and their manure can be used to produce nutrient rich soil. Rabbit feces is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and potash, which makes rabbit manure a good natural fertilizer. Leaving out vegetable scraps and other garden waste can encourage rabbits to create manure and possibly deter them from eating garden plants.

Resources:

Check out this video to learn more about rabbits.

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, a story about a young rabbit who gets into a bit of trouble with the local farmer. Her stories have been translated into 35 languages and 45 million copies have been sold. Check out this video to listen to the story.

If you want to be an author like Beatrix Potter, you can use this template to make your own book!

Join us on MHHM’s Facebook page for Storytime: Guess & Go today at noon to hear another famous story about rabbits!

Honeybees

Records from 1810 show that there was honey and honeycomb at Macculloch Hall. Gentleman farmer and citizen scientist George Macculloch (1775-1858) wondered about the small honey bee when he wrote “Is the bee guided by reason or instinct and necessity? Neither legislators nor mathematicians nor architects. What sense brings them home from far?”

Sweet autumn clematis in bloom in MHHM's pollinator garden.

Sweet autumn clematis in bloom in MHHM’s pollinator garden.

Since George Macculloch posed these questions, dedicated scientists and citizen scientists have studied honey bees and have uncovered many secrets of the honey bee’s life. These small creatures play a huge role in how a garden looks and what it produces. Honey bees’ work enables them to provide food for their hives and nearly one third of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that we enjoy.

Resources:

Join us for Storytime: Guess & Go! today at noon on Facebook Live to learn more about the life of the honeybee.

Watch honey bees inside and outside the hive.

See Liberty Science Center’s virtual honey bee exhibit.

Get tips for planting a pollinator-friendly garden.

Do a honey bee word search.

Register for a citizen scientist project at http://millionpollinatorgardens.org or https://www.bumblebeewatch.org.

Chipmunks

Spending time in a park or while on a hike, chances are you’ve heard or seen a scampering, scurrying chipmunk. If you had a chance to look closely, you’d see five dark brown stripes separated by four white or beige strips that start on the chipmunk’s face and go down the back of its body. This is our Eastern chipmunk. Eastern chipmunks actually look different than Western chipmunks, which have longer tails and spend more times in trees.

What else do chipmunks do when they are not scampering and scurrying? They can also swim, leap, and climb. They build burrows underground, with many tunnels and rooms. Chipmunks sometimes live in the same burrow for many years. At MHHM, we have a chipmunk that lives in a burrow underneath the sassafras tree in our garden and who we are always happy to see. Chipmunks stay very close to their homes, usually only traveling 160 feet from their burrows. They usually live alone, only living in groups when they are first born.

Chipmunks have a very good sense of smell which helps them find food, usually seeds, nuts, and berries. Maybe you’ve seen a chipmunk with its cheek pouches all puffed out, filled with seeds. They will also eat insects. Chipmunks also use their sense of smell to identify their brothers and sisters. You may see one chipmunk sniff another chipmunk face to face.

Resources:

Join us today at noon on Facebook Live for Storytime: Guess and Go! to learn more about chipmunks during Wild about Wildlife Month!

Listen to a Native American tale of How Chipmunk Got His Stripes written by Joseph Bruchac and James Bruchac.

Birds

You probably see or hear at least one or two birds during your day, but have you ever stopped to think about how unique birds really are? Some can swim and dive. Some walk. Some hover and fly. There are so many different species, different sizes, and different colors in our New Jersey backyards! During Wild About Wildlife Month, held each July, take time to appreciate the birds in your neighborhood. Learn about the goldfinch, robin, mourning dove, cardinal, and blue jay in our Backyard Birds sub tab and join us at noon today on Facebook Live for Storytime: Guess & Go! to hear more about birds.

Resources:

Learn about birds and what makes them special at this interactive site.

Take a virtual visit to The Raptor Trust on their Facebook page.

Enjoy a video of the Turtle Back Zoo Aviary, home to 350 birds.

Hear Good-Night, Owl! by Pat Hutchins and find out why Owl can’t seem to fall asleep.