This fall, Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are assisting the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) in an effort to conserve and protect the Allegheny woodrat, Neotoma magister.
|Sub-adult male Allegheny woodrat caught in southern portion of Edge of Appalachia Preserve Photo by: Rich McCarty|
Last year, a blog post was written here, introducing our efforts to search for new woodrat sites on the Edge of Appalachia Preserve and neighboring properties. We mapped all new sites, recorded fresh Allegheny woodrat activity and collected raccoon scat. The raccoon is known to be a carrier of a roundworm that, if ingested by woodrats, can wipe out entire populations. These "packrats" collect many things, including raccoon scat, to store in their middens, and if so, could contaminate not only themselves, but any other rat in the area. The removal of said scat could prove paramount in protecting this species from extirpation. This entire project is headed by biologists Al LeCount and Cheryl Mollohan.
|Ideal habitat or Allegheny woodrat. Peebles dolostone cliffs jetting out of hillside with many cracks and tunnels. Photo by: Robyn Wright Strauss|
This year, CMC and TNC staff along with assistants Laura Hughes and Emily Garnich, have teamed up with these mammal biologists to capture as many Allegheny woodrats as possible in all known active sites in southern Adams County. Once captured, small tissue samples are collected from the animal's ear, minor processing occurs, and the animal is released. These curious and I’d have to say adorable rodents are lured into live traps with apples, rodent nutrition blocks and bedding.
|Live traps set in "cave" of Peebles dolostone cliffs|
|The curiosity of these "packrats" make them pretty easy to catch. Photo by Mark Zloba|
|Allegheny woodrats kept satisfied with apple slices, nutrition block and bedding. Photo by Mark Zloba|
|Allegheny woodrats are handled gently in soft cones for processing age, weight, sex etc. Photo by Rich McCarty|
|Captured woodrats are released in same location they were caught.|
|Once released, these personable rats will sometimes pose for a few pictures. Photo by Robyn Wright Strauss|
|Then they scurry off to hide, sometimes in a poor hiding spot. Photo by Mark Zloba|
Enjoy these short videos of the releasing of the woodrats. If you turn up the volume on the first video, you might hear the thumping sound this female woodrat is making with her feet to scare us away. If you watch carefully, she continuously and quickly thumps her feet.
Posted by Mark Zloba