Monday, March 10, 2014

black rat ~ 03/10/14 ~ Midpen Preserve

Rattus rattus alexandrinus

posted 03/19/14 - Here's another dead animal to add to my virtual collection.  I'll take it.  I just noticed most of my dead animal finds have been mammals and snakes.  Hey, it's the only time I seem to get any pictures of them.  I'm not very good with their IDs and often have to ask for help.  I try to spread my queries around so as not to pester any one person too much, because everyone's busy and my blog is not that important.  In my zeal to double-check my facts as I always do, I ended up being a bit ratty myself.  Eventually, it was passed among a couple big-wig Mammalogists, so I am confident of this expert ID.  I'd quote the e-mails, but I didn't ask for permission, so I won't.  Sorry, all.

There were two other possible IDs:  the native dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes) and the introduced brown rat / Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus).  Without looking at teeth and skulls, they're not as easy to distinguish as I would have guessed.  My personal, completely uninformed, vote was woodrat, because of its obvious white belly, even though the tail wasn't as hairy as I would expect. Nope.  It's a black rat that isn't actually black.  Go figure.  I should note, the 2nd picture was my attempt to return the body back to its original stuffed-in-the-hole position, so that the black burying beetle I spied could get back to business.  I wouldn't even begin to guess how the rat died and got stuffed.


Cindy said...

You need to go to the Sierras and see some beautiful spring wildflowers. Take a break from those dead rats for awhile. And I thought I was silly sharing the rear end of a giant salamander, hahaha.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hey Cindy, I don't know what you're talking about, sally butts are cute.

I'm looking forward to reading about the other stinky thing we found that day :)

Oof, I'm feeling a little like that rat right now. I got overheated at Pinnacles today, which makes me worried about how hot (and still very dry!) it'll be even further inland.

Cindy said...

It took me about two weeks and the long drive home tonight to figure out this dead rat. At the time we found it next to an abandoned barn, I knew it was not a native woodrat because it had a scaly tail. But I was confused because the literature says nonnative roof and Norway rats usually occur near human-occupied buildings where they survive off the readily available food supply our sloppiness provides them. With no human residences within over a mile, why was this Old World rat there? I just realized that the barn owl that lives in the barn also sits in the oak tree under which we found the rat. So maybe the owl dropped the rat there. Why didn't the owl eat the rat - um, I don't know. Thanks for posting those disgusting photos and helping me solve this mystery. I still think you should go for some wildflowers or a dragonfly pond next. Now please excuse me while I try to figure out all these darn different deer mice.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

What I want to know is how did it get pulled into the hole. A snake, you think?

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Or long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata)?