Getting to know the mammals of Liberty State Park

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Recently, our Animal Interpretation team took a walk into Liberty State Park, which boasts many species of mammals. But what exactly makes an animal a mammal? To be a mammal, an animal must:

  • Have a backbone.
  • Have hair on its body for at least part of its life.
  • Be endothermic, also known as “warm-blooded.” Unlike reptiles, mammals regulate their own body temperature, allowing them to live in a wider variety of climates.
  • Produce milk to feed offspring.

A few mammals that call Liberty State Park home are:

  • Groundhogs (Marmota monax), also called “woodchucks.” To communicate with each other, they can use secretions from scent glands, as well as sounds such as whistling, barking, growling, and teeth-chattering. Groundhogs can swim and climb trees, but are usually found on the ground foraging or digging. Their external ears are round and can cover their ear canal to prevent dirt from getting in while burrowing.
  • The Eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), which use their ears (speaking of ears!) to detect any potential threat. These animals can usually be found in edge environments, between woods and open areas of land. Everyone knows rabbits are good at multiplying (they would probably make great math teachers). They can have up to 12 young in a litter, with up to 7 litters per year. Plus, they are sexually mature at only 2 or 3 months of age. If necessary, they can run up to 18 miles per hour.

The next time you visit Liberty State Park, be sure to look out for these marvelous mammals. You may just spot some-bunny!

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