PC (Pre-Codger), I had only vaguely heard of these elusive, poorly monikered rodents.
But when we pulled Codge's preset cams during last year's cam trapping class, and saw photos of the marvelous beastie, I knew that I too wanted a crack at catching their grin.
So, this year, as part of Codger's pre-class sets, I sunk a cam at a highly likely burrow:
Cam trap on aplodontia burrow in alder grove along Yuba River
They eat and collect bark and twigs - hence the "mountain beaver" nickname
The term "living fossil" is soooooo wonderfully exemplified by these fascinating rarities. The oldest living rodents, and the only members of their family and genus sill alive, molecular biology and fossil records are showing that the Aplodontidae split from the squirrel family about 40 million years ago, during the Eocene epoch.
Yes, the squirrel family. They're big, shaggy, mud-loving, slow-shuffling, nocturnal ground squirrels. Or, perhaps marmots, which are also old and related to squirrels, are a better comparison. But they're definitely not beavers.
My shy showtl did show - but only 3 times in 30 days, and not until the 6th night...
That ain't no beaver tail...
Bingo! An adult Aplodontia rufa is 16 inches long, and weighs about 1-1/2 pounds
Check out those human-like ears and tiny, heavy-lidded eyes
Burrow full of water? No prob for a rodent that builds chambers that trap air
20 days later - its natural privacy screen is fully up
A good first try at these shy guys.
I'm looking forward to another go next year.