Wildlife

The mix of vegetation communities present on Nantucket provides habitat for a variety of the wildlife. However, many ground-dwelling mammal species common in New England are absent, such as the eastern chipmunk, opossum, raccoon, red fox, fisher, striped skunk, and coyote. White-tailed deer are the only large, four-legged mammals present on the island, and their populations are increasing due to the absence of natural predators and declines in hunting. Eastern cottontail rabbits, white-footed deer mice and meadow voles are prolific and have been present for many years. Eastern gray squirrels, however, are a recent addition to the landscape and are believed to have come to the island on a lumber truck; they can now be seen regularly. Within the freshwater ponds and wetlands, several species of salamanders, frogs, turtles and snakes (all non-venomous) are numerous. In the near shore waters off the coast, harbor seals and grey seals are observed regularly. Nantucket also has an interesting assemblage of insects, including several rare and endangered species (particularly moths and beetles) that are associated with the island’s unique vegetation communities. 

Below is a brief list of some of the wildlife species that you may come across on our properties or in other areas of Nantucket – click on the individual photos for more detailed information.

Name Details
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American Copper

(Family lycaenidae) This little butterfly, also known as the Small Copper or the Common Copper, can be seen throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The…

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Cottontail Rabbits

(Sylvilagus floridanus) The most common species of rabbit on Nantucket is the eastern cottontail (Sylilagus floridanus). It can be found throughout the eastern United States…

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Eastern Garter Snake

(Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)  Of the six species of snakes that occur on Nantucket, garter snakes are the most common. Often mistakenly called “garden snakes” the…

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Flannel Moth

(Megalopyge crispata) Flannel moths range from Missouri to New Hampshire, and as far south as Florida and Louisiana. The inch long larva is covered in…

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Horseshoe Crab

(Limulus polyphemus)  The horseshoe crab is an aquatic sea creature that has remained virtually unchanged for over 350 million years. It is not an actual…

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Meadow Vole

(Microtus pennsylvanicus) The meadow vole, also known as the meadow or field mouse, is a common species of small mammal on Nantucket and across the…

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Red Spotted Purple Admiral

(Limenitis arthemis)  The Red-Spotted Purple Admiral occurs in the Southwest, Midwest and Eastern United States. This species is common in most areas of Massachusetts, including…

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Spotted Turtle

(Clemmys guttata) The spotted turtle is a semi-aquatic, freshwater reptile that occurs in vernal pools, bogs, freshwater swamps and small ponds across Nantucket, primarily in…

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Spring Peeper

(Pseudacris crucifer)  A spring peeper chorus is a familiar and welcome sound on Nantucket on rainy nights in the early spring, but the creatures themselves…

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Tussock Moths

(Family lymantriidae) Tussock moth caterpillars get their name from the tufts of hair, or “tussocks” that they have on their backs. Many species have four…