New England Cottontail Rabbit Survey

Alyce Walker and I ventured up Apple Hill to survey for cottontail rabbit spore.  We found several tracks in the recent snow and more importantly we found and collected scat.  The scat will be tested to identify which cottontail rabbit left it.  New England Cottontail rabbit is our native cottontail species in southern New England, but the Eastern Cottontail has become more widespread after it's introduction to New England.  Differentiating the species is very difficult unless you can can examine the skull.  Tissue samples can be useful for identifying the species but cottontail rabbits are difficult to capture in live traps.  Fortunately, the scat yields the kind of data we need but it has to be collected under precise conditions.  We haven't had many days with very cold temperatures (below freezing) for 36 hours or more after it last snows this season.  We had one day this season to take advantage of this season, fortunately we found one scat.  This project will continue during subsequent seasons.

Scat is collected and stored in vials with silica gel (a drying agent) until laboratory analysis.

Cottontail Rabbit Tracks in Snow.

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