Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tiny but Mighty: Rodents of RMBL

During summer, the scientists of RMBL live among wild animals of many shapes and sizes. Marmoteers tend to live among marmots more than other ecologists do, and almost everyone live with one type of rodent or another.

Cabins in Gothic are pretty good about keeping out the medium-sized creatures like deer and foxes. But occasionally, rodents like baby porcupines and big marmots beat the maintenance team to the entrance.

Mama marmot Anchor making an unannounced visit to Richards through the cabin floor. Picture by Ben Blonder.

There’s also the deer mice, the most common rodent of them all. These mice thrive throughout most of North America. Even at 9500ft in the middle of the Rockies, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Adult deer mice weigh approximately 15 grams. Picture from RMBL website.

Squeaky but swift, small but shrewd, they live in cabins and feed on anything left out by careless humans. We keep our food in sealed metal bins or elevated cabinets to make them mice-proof, but sometimes we are outsmarted. The result:

A bag without its almond contents (one pound's worth), chewed through and emptied overnight within closed drawers.

At 15 grams per individual, my 454-gram almond deficit probably fed families. Somewhere in the walls of Forest Queen during those summer nights, they feasted.

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