The refuge is one of the few places in Missouri where the swamp rabbit, a larger relative of the eastern cottontail rabbit, is known to occur. Unlike other rabbits, the swamp rabbit regularly takes to the water to move about and avoid predators. Swamp rabbits eat many species of grasses, sedges and herbs growing in moist soil areas plus succulent aquatic plants and the stems of cane. In winter, they feed on twigs and bark of woody plants such as blackberry, hazelnut, deciduous holly and spicebush. Look for these unique mammals resting on logs, stones or other vegetation in the bottomland forests and wetlands of Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.
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In 1976, through the Wilderness Act of 1964, Congress designated 7,730 acres of swamp, riparian areas, and Ozark Plateau uplands as the Mingo Wilderness Area.