On Leap Day I thought I’d share some facts about the many different “leaping” critters we see come through our doors.
Of course, the Eastern Cottontail is one of the most prolific animals we see. Probably because here in Minnesota they can have 3-4 litters every year! Each litter has 5-7 bunnies, also called “kits” by the way. You can see why they’re so important to the natural food cycle. Here’s a rarely seen albino bunny:
Albinos can be born into regular litters:
But when you’re talking white rabbits in Minnesota, most people tend to think of the Snowshoe Hare. Snowshoes live farther north than the Twin Cities and replace the cottontail in the food cycle. They’re brown through the spring-fall, turning white in the winter. Here’s a young snowshoe that was admitted a few years ago:
Perhaps the most thought-of leapers are frogs and toads. We have several in Minnesota including…
Gray Tree Frog:
Boreal Chorus Frog (also known as the Western Chorus Frog) is Minnesota’s smallest frog, measuring only .75-1.5″ long:
The Bullfrog is the largest native frog in N. America. Here in Minnesota, it’s common only to the southeast corner of the state, but can be found in other areas. Fun fact: when underwater bullfrogs close their nostrils and breathe through their skin!
Green Frog (note the large tympanum behind its eye):
Northern Leopard Frog (named for its spots). Fun Fact: Some leopard frogs do not have any spots. These are Burnsi Leopard Frogs.
The American Toad starts its life in water as a tadpole, but then migrates to dry areas returning only to mate and lay eggs:
Oddly, we see a fair number of out-of-staters who have “leapt” their way into Minnesota via backpacks, trucks and even potted plants.
This cool looking Cuban Tree Frog hitched its way from Florida via potted plants. We’ve actually received a couple of these in recent years. In Florida they’re invasive and are decimating the native frogs:
And what would Leap Day be without leaping lizards? All of these lizards arrived in frozen Minnesota by accident:
Ornate Tree Lizard (from outside Phoenix):
And this Brown Anole that traveled from Texas:
For all species that mistakenly end up in Minnesota, they’re returned to where they came from if possible. If we don’t know exactly where they hitched a ride, we place them in a zoo or work with the Herpetological Society at the UMN. The exception to this is the highly invasive Cuban Tree Frog which cannot be re-released in Florida (so we need to place or euthanize).
And, last but not least, one of our favorite leapers at WRC: The Flying Squirrel!
Contrary to their name, they don’t technically fly by flapping wings. Instead they leap into the air, extend their legs and use the large skin flaps to soar from tree to tree (you can see a bit of the flap folded above and spread out in the photo below).
Here in Minnesota we have two species: The Northern Flying Squirrel and the Southern Flying Squirrel. Both are found in the metro, but once you’re north of Brainerd/Duluth area, you’ll only find Northern Flying Squirrels. This one is a Southern Flying Squirrel and for those who follow us on Facebook this is our first admit of 2012.
Its neurological issues aren’t resolving, it still has a head tilt and cannot move in a straight line (it circles). Since we can’t release it in this condition, we’ve found it a nice new home where it’ll be an educational animal.