Friday, March 2, 2012

An Anonymous Rodent: Revised

Today as I was walking out my gate to go for a walk I ran into a furry little creature ambling through the weed patch.

My presence startled him out of his reverie, and he nervously scurried to and fro, trying to find a place to hide.  When he couldn't find a cozy den or long tunnel to escape to, he began furiously digging at my feet, determined to make a tunnel deep enough to hide in before I could close the three-foot gap between us. He clearly did not have a good sense of time.  No doubt he is the rodent who shows up late to every critter party.

But I still mentally cheered him on.

What the heck, shoot for the stars little guy!

Somehow, he managed to dig a hole about two inches deep in thirty seconds.  Without wasting anymore time, he stuck his head in the hole and let his body rest limp and still on the mound of dirt behind him.

Seconds passed.

Perhaps he thought that I couldn't see him if he couldn't see me?

Or maybe he was learning to stand on his head, but needed extra support?

Or maybe he'd just had a bad day?

I need to know, guys.  What was he thinking when he buried his head in the ground?  Why did he do it?

I feel certain there's a good story there.


What in the world was he? A mole?  A distant cousin to Mr. Rat [shudder]?  A short-haired guinea pig? 

There are so many wildlife mysteries on this property, I tell you.

Fortunately, I managed to get a video of the critter before he made a startling mad dash toward me. Although I didn't do a great job of capturing his headstand...

THE REVISION: Today marks the day that I overcame some towering technological obstacles.  Namely, that I figured out how to make the original video less blurry.  I'm hoping this version is better suited to your viewing pleasure.

Please excuse the rapid camera movement and strange sound effects toward the end of the video.  For a moment it looked as if a RAT was charging toward me.

However, in retrospect that thing was way too cute to be a rat.

Look closely as you watch, because I'm hoping one of you can tell me what , exactly, my new little tunnel-digging, head-standing friend is!

This is a matter of the utmost importance.

© by scj


  1. What size would you say it is? Kind of looks like a nutria. I might have to consult my children :).

  2. Ground squirrel?
    Pocket gopher?
    I think it's too big to be a vole.

  3. Julianna, thanks for the suggestion! He was about the size of a guinea pig. I just did a google search for "nutria" and I think this guy's face is flatter. I didn't notice whiskers on him, either...

  4. Gaileen,

    These are good suggestions. I just googled them both. A ground squirrel's face is way pointier than this little guy's. For a moment I thought you'd nailed it with pocket gopher, but I think pocket gophers have pointier faces and bigger noses than the critter I saw.

    Hmmmm, this mystery is proving to be more difficult to solve than I thought!

  5. Maybe a muskrat? Lemming? I'll have Aidan take a look at the video :).

  6. Can't be a giant kangaroo rat- too flat a face. American pika?

  7. Thank you, Julianna. Some things are best left up to kids to figure out. ;)

  8. Aw man, Gaileen. I wish it were an American pika. Those things are adorable!!! I think the closest guess so far is a pocket gopher... We're getting warmer, warmer, warmer. Soon we will be hot.

  9. Well, my resident rodent experts vote muskrat. Who knows? Maybe you could submit it to an e-nature site and get some feedback? :)

  10. Please thank your resident rodent experts for me. I will add muskrat to the rather long list I am compiling. With the help of google images I intend to solve this perplexing mystery. Or maybe I'll send the video into the professionals. ;) Great idea.

  11. He totally looks like a mountain pocket gopher (there are several species) to me. Here are a few links:

    HTH! It was fun to see him and hear your voice! :-)

  12. Okay, I think it IS a pocket gopher. The first few pictures I saw of a pocket gopher looked a little off...but this Wikipedia pic looks pretty similar to my furry critter. And once again, Wikipedia comes through in an emergency.

    THANK YOU, Sharalyn (and Snapdragon) for solving this mystery for me.