Friday, September 5, 2014

The Alder Host

As mentioned in a prior post, much like our sage steppe bunny Brachylagus, the Mountain Beaver, Aplodontia rufa, is also a keystone species for the burrow complexes they build. But in wet alder woodlands & meadows on creeks, rivers, and lakes.

This summer, while lending a hand at the Codger's cam trapping workshop, I decided to also try that continuously auto-focusing, "in your face" chipmunk cam on an aplodontia burrow for a couple of nights. And similarly put it down on the ground, about 3 feet from the entrance.

aplodontia cam trap set
Aplodontia burrow and cam trap set in-situ

Along with some seeds, I sprinkled dead moths, a butterfly and a few beetles in hopes of drawing out a shrew or two, but alas, deer mice cleaned it all up.

deer mouse

deer mouse

deer mouse

It was definitely 2+ deer mice, btw. Note the tails - one has an up-kink at the tip.

deer mouse

deer mouse

Of course, just like in pygmy rabbitats and woodrat sticko-systems, predators always lurk.

In this case a weasel popped out of the burrow. While "mostly" on the prowl for the smaller inquilines, such as mice and voles, they might try to take an aplo. Especially young-ins.


Note the millipedes now in the scene. They may be living in the burrow too.

Speaking of voles, a montane vole came and went as well.

montane vole

montane vole

And boomer the burrow builder also made a brief evening appearance, coming out to sniff the scene and give the cam trap a big "cheeeeeese."



I had dabbed birch oil on that branch. Birch and alder are both in the Birch Family, Betulaceae, and since alder is a primary food for aplos, I thought the scent might prove intriguing.

"What an unusual alder aroma…"

Checkity-check those amazing whiskers. Perfect for sensing tunnel walls in pitch dark.


Hmmm... Reminds me of those 1950s Ipana Toothpaste commercials with Bucky Beaver.

"Brusha... Brusha... Brusha... get the new Ipana... it's dandy for your teeth."



  1. Super photos, what camera was in that build?

    1. Thanks Woody. That trap uses a Sony HC70.

  2. This guy even makes opossums seem pretty.

  3. Oh, he's so CUTE! (or she?) I LOVE those whiskers--wow. What a treat to see an aplo. so clearly.

    And, as ever, delightful photos of the other den denizens. =)


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