Saturday, December 10, 2011

Becoming Size Wise

On my final trip of 2011 to the Mono Basin survey site, I once again tried short sets in specialized habitats, in hopes of catching a few small species that have so far eluded the cam traps, but should be around. Species such as sagebrush voles, pygmy rabbits, and Inyo shrews.

As well as a too-cute nano-mammal that I had glimpsed a few times, so knew was there, but was still playing shy and hard to get.

Tamias minimus, the Least Chipmunk.

But, since I had seen roughly where some were living, I figured it just had to be a matter of time, and smelly seeds, before a properly-placed camera did nab one.

rock set
2 day short set in pumice rock tumble near wetland

The cautious yet curious approach - "What's that new thing in our territory?"

Bingo! Least Chipmunk, Tamias minimus. The smallest of California's 
~ 13 species. The soft gray and yellow-ochre perfectly match the habitat

Just how "least" are they?

A similar short set in pinyon pines also caught a minimus, along with several other small species, thus allowing for a nice size comparison...

least chipmunk
Mighty minimus checking out the seeds among the pinyon shreds

pinyon mouse
Pinyon mouse in nearly the same spot

dark kangaroo mouse
Kangaroo mouse - bit different ears, huh?

desert woodrat
Desert woodrat

fence lizard
Western fence lizard

So, slightly larger than a mouse, not nearly as big as a woodrat, and about as long as a typical blue-belly lizardo. That's pretty minimus.

This micromunk brings us to 20 mammal species confirmed by camera traps for the Mono Basin project this season. A solid start. Wonder what new species 2012 will hold?



  1. ...such distinct little critters...Thank you for sharing

  2. though saying it is an assault on my "manliness": that pinyon mouse is the cute as heck!

    Nice fence lizard.

  3. Least Chipmunk = cuteness.

    Pinyon Mouse = cuteness, squared. The mother of all cuteness. OMG, so cute.

  4. One day I'd like to see just one giant eye staring into the lens.

    Do you have Abert's squirrel out there? I just saw my first, and I'm smitten.

  5. Y'all have great taste - the pinyon mice are a fave of mine too.

    Murr - sometimes we do get the big eye - usually from curious bears. You can see some in my posts Double Double Trouble, and The Meek and the Mighty. No, we don't have the terrifically cute Abert's squirrel here in CA. Looks similar to our Douglas squirrel, but with even bigger ears. :)


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