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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Showtl's Underworld, Part 3

Herman the Ermine made but one alarming appearance, August 1 at 12:45AM.

Nine hours later the showtl was back, safe and sound.

Other species find Aplodontia's digs to be popular hangouts.

During a trapping study of Aplodontia burrows in the 1950s, Egbert Pfeiffer caught spotted skunks, long-tailed weasels, an ermine, mink, chickaree, dusky-footed and bushy-tailed woodrats, several species of mouse, and none other than Big Sally -- our Pacific Giant Salamander.

Other field workers added the striped skunk, raccoon, badger, marten, the snowshoe hare, more rodents, the coast mole, and the charismatic shrew mole, another Codger favorite (here's why).  

As a meeting place for some intriguing and rarely photographed species, Aplodontia burrows have much to offer.

[Note: I am not absolutely certain this little predator is not a mink -- please speak out if you have a definite opinion.]


Pfeiffer, E.W. 1953. Animals trapped in mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa) runways, and the mountain beaver in captivity.  Journal of Mammalogy, 34:396.

Carraway, L.N. and B.J. Verts. 1993. Aplodontia rufa. Mammalian Species No. 431:1-10.


Trailblazer said...

Brilliant picture of the ermine!!

Great bit o' natural history captured there!

randomtruth said...

Another terrific catch Chris. I don't have ANY familiarity with mink, but based on the proportion of this guy to the size of the burrow, I'd say it's pretty big. And mink are about twice the size of ermine, right? The dark, "glossy when wet" fur seems suggestive of mink too (per Jameson & Peeters). Either way, fantastic job.

Kirk said...

Based on the number of mink encounters I've had, that ermine looks awful minky to me. Minks tend to have a more wider face than weasel. Weasels to me look more dainty in the face.

KMH said...

Based on height and breadth of face, this looks like a mink to me

John Carlson said...

I would go with the Mink too.

Camera Trap Codger said...

I wrote to mammalogist Roland Kays and asked for his opinion. Here's what he said:

"That is a tough one. My immediate reaction was mink, but probably just because it was wet.

The color doesn't seem to be helpful, could be either weasel or mink.

Overall size is a bit small, I think (I don't have a native feeling for how large a Showtl is, unlike you probably have), but could probably be a female mink or male weasel (or did you do the math and figure something otherwise?).

I think the key is the relative ear and eye size. The mink has smaller ears and eyes. Check this mink picture, eyeballs smaller than nose pad. While this weasel face has eyeballs >= nose pad, with relatively larger (wider) ears.

Based on the ears and eyes of the gal in your picture I would guess mink, but wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong. Get any more pictures?"

So it seems the minks have it.