Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

May 30, 2009

Name that Rat!

Filed under: curiosities, Non Birds — richditch @ 11:02 pm
Arizona Cotton Rat

Arizona Cotton Rat

No, this isn’t a quiz with photos of the entire George W. Bush administration, although I do see some resemblance to Scooter Libby here.

But this rodent I discovered along a trail a few miles from home has given me an excuse to research a family of animals I know little about. I fist saw a pair of these rodents along this trail on Friday morning, 5/29/09. One quickly disappeared from view, but the other stayed mostly in view on the edge of a small grassy opening and I managed to get a few shots of it.

I returned this morning 5/30/09 and found one rodent out in the same small area not far off the trail, and I was able to watch it until a large loud mower came along the nearby road.

I turned to Mammals of North America, by Nora and Rick Bowers and Kenn Kaufman – one of the volumes in the Kaufman Focus Guides from Houghton Mifflin. The guide includes 120 species of small rodents, and points out that “the majority of these species are active only at night…most are hard to observe…they are even harder to identify.”

After studying my photos and the field guide descriptions, I’ve tentatively called this an Arizona Cotton Rat (Sigmodon arizonae). But I’n definitely not an expert and if anyone has other suggestions on the identity I’d really like to hear from you about it.

Arizona Cotton Rat

Arizona Cotton Rat

In this second image “Scooter” is using his back foot to scratch, and that’s giving us a better view of his light belly. And, as usual, I’ve tried showing my subject in habitat in case that helps anyone else with the ID.

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1 Comment »

  1. Looks like the one I found at Firefly Forest. She knows her stuff…
    http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2006/04/29/arizona-cotton-rat/

    Comment by Roberta — December 17, 2009 @ 4:50 pm


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