Monday, May 25, 2015

Rodents in Spring

Rodents often seem to be a neglected group of wildlife, which is too bad as they are very fascinating creatures with a wide diversity of life styles. Many of the species are unfortunately small and nocturnal and thus hard to observe, but occasionally you will get good looks, and a few popular species are larger and may be active in the day.

Groundhogs have done well with human habitation. I could have obtained a "natural" shot here but I like to show context, in this case a groundhog living metres away from a busy road. Groundhogs are a kind of marmot, but are not restricted to mountainous areas like most of their relatives.

I rarely get good views of Porcupines as they are rare in Algonquin Park, likely due to prevalence of Fishers for which they are a favoured food. This may have been the normal state of affairs before Fishers were eliminated from much of their range.

Deer Mice are likely our most abundant mammal but out rarely seen except when they enter houses. They will go through large boom-and-bust cycles based on the availability of food, and a high point in Algonquin Park last year resulted in an amazing diversity and frequency of owl sightings. This baby Deer Mouse was on of several found nesting under a board on the dunes of Rondeau.

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