Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Secret Life of Meadow Voles

Today was a beautiful day, high popcorn clouds heralding a coming storm, but mostly sunny and a little warmer. After Ella came home from school, I suggested we go on an "adventure" to see if we could find anything interesting. Sometimes Ella is a little hard to enroll in such an undertaking, but today, it didn't take too much influence.

When she stepped out and noticed the clouds, she insisted we bring an umbrella because "I think it's gonna start to rain soon". I obliged, and we set off down the driveway. I offered that we might head out into the grass, and see what we could find. So we ambled freely for a while, following Ella's whims. We sat for a bit by an old scotch broom plant, where Ella peeled old straw stalks to chew on, like Drew does. Then she was drawn to an area she called a pond, which is really just a depression in our land.

When we arrived there, we found several areas of blond, lying-down grass. They made a nice, soft, comfy carpet of grass, and we laid down and remarked that it was kind of like a bed. Then I began digging down to the dirt, because sometimes, in this way, you can find a whole, tiny universe you weren't aware of before: insects, tiny mushrooms, miniature plants. I parted grass here and there, and found an animal runway, and there were droppings in it. Hmmmm....let's follow this and see where it....ACK! I found a mouse carcass. All that remained were its incisors, its spine, and its tail. Well, now I was really intrigued. Who killed the mouse and ate it in such a fashion? Why was it in this runway? Was it the original inhabitant? Or did it just end up there, deposited by the eater? Or had it died of natural causes, and decomposed? So many questions!

Now that my curiosity was piqued, I began uncovering a vast network of tunnels all throughout the grass. Just like our streets, there were crossroads, where the paths lead off in several directions. I found a hole, with some grass and broom branches sticking out. And I also found some cut grass lying in the pathway.

On researching, I find that I am likely uncovering the runs of the Meadow Vole, a grass eating rodent. So that answers that question, but not the wondering about whether the carcass was a vole, a mouse, and in either case, how did it die and who ate it? I had thought there was a carnivorous small mammal that might eat mice, but I'm not finding reference to it. Maybe it's not a mouse but a vole? Maybe I won't ever know...such is the mystery of natural history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Olá! Aceita Parceria? Sucesso. Fabrícia.