In the animal world, shelters come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Some animals make their homes in trees, while others live in dens, burrows, and caves.
Still, even Jones Park forester David Jamar was puzzled when he encountered an odd hole at the base of a sweetgum tree just off the Grapevine Trail.
“I knew it was too big for one armadillo,” said Jamar. “So I put a game camera there to see what was going on.” The resulting photos reveal the busiest multilevel condo in Humble, Texas! Jamar captured armadillos, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, deer, and even a coyote visiting the shelter.
Like tiny bulldozers, armadillos excavated the area to create a convenient burrow for many other species. Opossums later moved into the burrow and inside the tree, which had been hollowed out by heart rot fungus. Raccoons made their homes in the tree limbs, while squirrels claimed the canopy. Deer also visited the shelter to eat nearby leaves. No doubt the coyote noticed the activity and came looking for dinner. However, because raccoons, opossums, and armadillos are not easy prey, the coyote most likely dined on grapes and bugs that night.
What’s most amazing is that, out of the 466 game-camera photos taken at the site, no two species ever met outside the tree. The animals somehow managed to coordinate their schedules perfectly.
With the footage provided by the game cameras, Jamar was able to incorporate this busy animal shelter into a Tadpoles Club lesson plan. Before visiting the burrow, the children read the book, The Tree by Naomi Russell, which is nearly identical to the Jones Park tree and burrow. What better way to learn about nature than seeing it firsthand!
Many thanks to JJPV for purchasing the game camera for Jones Park!
Check out a few more game camera photos below.