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.
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...
Mighty minimus checking out the seeds among the pinyon shreds
Pinyon mouse in nearly the same spot
Kangaroo mouse - bit different ears, huh?
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?