Friday, July 4, 2014

Barrier island bunnies

I'm not always accustomed (said the bunny hawker) to seeing rabbits at their leisure, but along with squirrels and wild horses—yes, there is a Chincoteague pony post coming soon—we saw quite a few cottontails on the refuge and the national seashore.

[Beach bunnies. Well, beach road bunnies, anyway; there was a small herd of them feeding on a narrow strip of land between the road and Little Toms Cove.]

There are, of course, marsh rabbits (Sylvilagus palustris) on the islands, but all the rabbits we saw on this visit were eastern cottontails (S. floridanus). Marsh rabbits are a darker, more uniform brown, and are more strictly nocturnal than eastern cottontails. Both species live in the marshes, but the easterns are less dependent on the marshes and more frequently found in other habitats.

[Assateague abounds in ticks as well as mosquitoes, and this young cottontail has two prize-winners on his right ear; the lighting shows that they appear to have latched on to a pretty good blood vessel.]

[This one looks rather hare-like for a cottontail.]

[This photo, one of my favourites of the entire trip, reminds me of a Robert Bateman painting in its depiction of the animal and its habitat. Jessa, I believe, took all of these.]

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