Some Wildlife Attracted to Logs

Mammals like the gray fox rely on logs as potential dens.

A log, or better yet, a jumble of different sized logs, creates a small ecosystem within the forest ecosystem. Just roll over a log that has sat in shade for a summer or longer. Instantly, you see what usually escapes the view of most visitors to a forest. Here is a place for new plants to take root (on rich humus) and also find shelter from heavy browsing by deer. And the log or log pile is also a cool, humid refuge for invertebrates, amphibians, and many other creatures that come out at night.

If you roll a log, carefully roll it toward you, in case you surprise a snake. That way, the reptile can escape headed in the right direction—away from your feet. Then make sure to roll the log back to its original position.

Here are a few creatures attracted to logs and the rich humus beneath them:

Birds Amphibians
  • Ruffed grouse (for male’s display)
  • Woodpeckers (including pileated)
  • Wrens (particularly winter, Pacific, and house wrens)
  • Northern and Louisiana waterthrushes
  • Redback and many other salamanders
  • Toads
Reptiles A Note on Snakes
  • Green anole
  • Five-lined skinks
  • Fence lizards
  • Box turtles
  • Cooters, sliders, and eastern painted turtles
  • Ringneck snakes
  • Pine woods snake
  • Black racer
  • Rat Snakes
  • Kingsnakes
  • Milk Snakes
  • Copperhead
  • Timber rattlesnake
Most North American snakes are harmless and valued predators of rodents and other small creatures. Many people fear snakes, particularly the few venomous species, including copperheads and rattlesnakes. Logs and brushpiles may attract snakes, and any wildlife biologist will tell you this is a good thing that helps maintain natural balance. But those who know the woods also respect snakes, and always watch for them when stepping over a log, rolling a log, or walking a path where one might be caught by surprise while basking in the sun. Snakes usually strike only when surprised or provoked. Given the chance, most flee when they see humans—often before we can even lay eyes on them.
Invertebrates Mammals
  • Earthworms (help decompose organic matter in soil)
  • Slugs
  • Sowbugs
  • Ants (many nest beneath logs)
  • Ground and fighting beetles (insect predators)
  • Wasps (logs provide nest material, nest sites, and insect prey)
  • Spiders
  • Centipedes (predators on wide variety of other invertebrates)
  • Millipedes (decomposers that break down tiny bits of organic matter)
  • Cottontail rabbits
  • Chipmunks
  • Squirrels
  • Red-backed voles
  • Mice
  • Shrews
  • Moles
  • Black bear
  • Bobcat
  • River otter
  • Skunks
  • Mink
  • Long-tailed weasel
  • Marten
  • Gray fox

 

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