The Poconos is a 2,000-square-mile tract of land in northeastern Pennsylvania bordered by the Pocono Plateau on the north, the Kittatinny Mountains on the south, the Delaware River on the east and the Mosaic Mountains on the west. This tract of land is thickly wooded and filled with rivers, lakes, streams and ponds. Teeming with wildlife, the Poconos is home to 260 species of birds and 60 species of mammals.
Things That Crawl, Slither and Fly
Birds are the most common wildlife in the Poconos. Species include the common loon, great blue heron, wood buck, mallard, great egret, turkey vulture, bald eagle and golden eagle. If you are hiking though the region, you will most likely come in contact with the friendly black-capped chickadee, who enjoys greeting visitors with friendly chirping. Box turtles and wood turtles frequent the ponds in the area. Many nonpoisonous snakes in the Poconos. These include the garter, ringneck, red-bellied, milk and black rat snakes. Two poisonous species exist in the region, the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake.
Opossums, Shrews and Moles
The Poconos are home to the Virginia opossum, which ranges in length from one foot to 2 feet. The opossum prefers to live in forests and swamps, where he feeds on insects and berries. Six species of shrew can be found in the region. These include the northern short-tailed shrew, which is 3 to 4 inches long and relies on scent to identify family members; the masked shrew, which is rarely seen; the water shrew, which is 5 to 6 inches in length; the smokey shrew; the pygmy shrew, which is the smallest land mammal at 3 to 3.5 inches long; and the long-tailed shrew, which is extremely rare. In the Poconos, you will find the hair-tailed mole, which can consume three times his body weight each day, and the star-nosed, mole which is the fastest-eating mammal in the world.
Rabbits and Rodents
Three rabbit species are found in the Poconos. These include the eastern cottontail, the Appalachian cottontail and the snowshoe hare. These rabbits can reach speeds up to 18 mph. The Poconos host rodents including the eastern chipmunk, which builds burrows underground; the red squirrel, which can live up to 10 years; and southern and northern flying squirrels, which can glide up to 300 feet. Additional rodents include porcupines, each possessing 30,000 sharp quills; meadow voles, among the most common mammals in the state of Pennsylvania; and beavers. Several species of rats and mice also exist here, including the Norway rat, the house mouse, the meadow mouse, the woodland mouse and the deer mouse.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Of 185 species of even-toed ungulates, the white-tailed deer is the only one inhabiting the Poconos region. These amazing creatures can run up to 40 mph and leap 8 feet high. Coyotes, red foxes, gray foxes, black bears, bobcats and long-tailed and short-tailed weasels live in the Poconos. So do raccoons, who often live in colonies of 20 individuals; minks, who can swim underwater for up to 100 feet; and striped skunks, who can accurately release spray as far as 10 feet.
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