Mammals

Kiawah Island is home to more than 20 species of mammals, including deer, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, and squirrels.

Bobcat

Yellowish or reddish-brown and spotted or streaked with brown or black. Males (18-28 pounds), Females (14-20 pounds). Carnivorous, opportunistic hunter that eats a variety of prey, including rabbits, rodents, raccoons, birds, deer (primarily fawns during the summer), and even reptiles and amphibians.

Bobcats serve a vital role on Kiawah by helping to control deer and rodent populations. Town Biologists are currently studying bobcat habitat use and requirements using GPS collars. Historically abundant on the island but population declined significantly in 2017 due primarily to the negative secondary impacts of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGAs). Learn more about this issue and how you can help at www.savekiawahbobcats.com.          
More information on bobcats.

WHERE TO SEE

Active at dawn, dusk, and nighttime hours. Found throughout the island but most common on eastern end.

NOTES

Breeds in late winter (February-March). Kittens born in spring (April-June), typically 2-3 kittens per year. The den is typically located under a brush pile, in a hollow tree stump, or in a thicket of palmetto. Kittens will stay with the female for 8-10 months before dispersing to find their own territories. Solitary except during breeding season and females with kittens. Visual predator.

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White-tailed Deer

Reddish coat during summer; darker, gray coat during winter.  Males have antlers. Fawns have white spots for first few months. Striking white underside of tail which is raised when alarmed. Males (100-175 pounds), Females (90-120 pounds).  Herbivorous. Consumes a variety of native and  ornamental plants, as well as grasses, acorns and muscadine grapes.

Use caution when driving on the island and be alert for deer crossing roadways. Deer travel in groups, so if you see a deer near the roadway, slow down, because there are likely to be others nearby.
More Information on Deer.

WHERE TO SEE

Common. All parts of island, most visible during dawn/dusk and at night.

NOTES

Breeds in fall (September-November). Fawns are born in spring (April-June). Does will have 1-2 fawns each year and keep them hidden by themselves for the first few weeks of life.  Unattended fawns are not abandoned and should never be approached or disturbed. Males grow a new set of antlers each spring and summer. In early fall, the velvet is rubbed off of these antlers as they harden. Antlers are shed in late winter.  

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Raccoon

Gray or brown. Black facial mask and ringed tail. 10-20 pounds. Omnivorous. Eats acorns, blackberries, grapes, insects, crayfish, lizards, eggs. Will scavenge in garbage cans.

WHERE TO SEE

Common. All parts of the island. Most visible at night.

NOTES

Breeds from February-June with young (kits) born 63 days later. Dens are typically located in a hollow tree or cavity above the ground. Kits are blind until 3 weeks of age and travel with the female beginning at 2 months, leaving to find their own territory in the fall.

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Virginia Opossum

Gray-white fur, black legs, and a hairless tail. 4-8 pounds.  Omnivorous. Eats small mammals, fruits, seeds, insects, and eggs. Will scavenge in garbage cans.

WHERE TO SEE

Common. All parts of island. Most visible at night.

NOTES

The only marsupial in North America. Females have a pouch for rearing young. Breeds in winter (December-February). Young are born 15 days later with most development occurring in the female's pouch. Litter sizes range from 7 to 15. Tail is prehensile and can grasp very large branches to aid in climbing.

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Gray Squirrel

Gray with reddish tinges, white belly, bushy tail. 1-2 pounds. Omnivorous. Eats acorns, nuts, fruit, buds, flowers, seeds, and occasionally bird eggs and young.

WHERE TO SEE

Common. All parts of island, active during the day.

NOTES

Typically breeds twice per year, winter and summer. 1-8 young born in hollow trees or nests constructed of leaves and branches. Very good climbers that spend most of their time in trees, though they often forage on the ground.

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Eastern Cottontail Rabbit

Brownish-gray, large ears and white, fluffy tail. 2-3 pounds. Herbivorous.  Eats grass, clover, leaves, bark, and flowers.

WHERE TO SEE

Uncommon. All parts of island, most visible at night.

NOTES

Breeds in spring and summer. 2-6 young born 1 month later, typically in a nest lined with hair on the ground. Young are weaned after 2 weeks and leave the nest soon after. Cottontail rabbits can raise 3-4 litters a year.

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Marsh Rabbit

Dark brown, small ears and no white tail. 2-3 pounds. Herbivorous.  Eats cattails, rushes, and other aquatic vegetation as well as blackberry and greenbrier.

WHERE TO SEE

Uncommon. All parts of island, most visible at night.

NOTES

Breeds in spring and summer. 2-5 young born 1 month later, typically in a nest lined with hair on the ground. Young are weaned after 2 weeks and leave the nest soon after. Marsh rabbits can raise 3-4 litters a year. They are typically associated with wetland habitats and are very good swimmers.

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American Mink

Long slender body, dark brown fur, short legs, partially webbed feet. 2 feet long, 1-4 pounds. Carnivorous. Eats crabs, snakes, fish, birds, clams, rats, and mice.

WHERE TO SEE

Rare. Most active at night. Creeks, river, marsh.

NOTES

Breeds in winter (January-March). 3-6 young born between April-June. Young are weaned after 2 months and typically disperse in the fall to find their own territories. Mink are very good swimmers. Mink are rarely seen on Kiawah with most sightings occurring along saltwater creeks or river banks.

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Nine-banded Armadillo

Gray in color with armored plates. 2.5 feet in length including their tail and weigh 10-12 pounds.

WHERE TO SEE

A recent arrival to Kiawah, armadillos can be seen throughout the island.

NOTES

Most active at night. Prolific diggers. Eat primarily insects, including wasps, fire ants, and grubs. Give birth to 4 identical quadruplets of the same sex in the spring. Name means "little armored one" in Spanish.

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Coyote

Grayish‐brown, often with reddish tinges, “dog‐like”, bushy tail. 20-40 pounds. Omnivorous. Eats deer, rabbits, rodents, insects, fruits, berries, and acorns.

WHERE TO SEE

Uncommon.  Most active at night.

NOTES

Breeds in late winter (February‐March).  5-7 pups born 63 days later.  Pups are weaned after 2 months and disperse in 8-9 months.  Coyotes generally hunt alone or in pairs and cover large areas in search of food.  Coyotes are a recent addition to the island, arriving in 2009. 

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Bottlenose Dolphin

Gray-silver in color. Smooth skin, prominent dorsal fin. 6-10 feet,  500 pounds. Carnivorous. Eats fish, shrimp, and crabs.

WHERE TO SEE

Common. Ocean and Kiawah River. Captain Sam's Inlet, especially near low tide.

NOTES

Breeds year round, typically a single calf is born 12 months later. Dolphins are normally found in groups (pods) of 5-10 individuals. Dolphins search for prey using echolocation, similar to sonar. If you see a dolphin or other marine mammal, dead or alive, on the beach please call KICA Security (768-5566), or the SCDNR 24-hour Hotline (1-800-922-5431) immediately.

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Michael Gamble

WILDLIFE AND OUTREACH TECHNICIAN

mgamble@kiawahisland.org

Michael Gamble joined the Wildlife Department in 2024.  He will assist Town biologists with research projects, wildlife outreach and education, wildlife nuisance complaints, and data gathering and reporting. Michael is originally from Charleston, SC. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Charleston and is currently working towards his Master of Science degree in wildlife biology at Louisiana State University. He has worked as an assistant on several avian and passerine migration ecology projects, including at the Kiawah Island Banding Station.

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