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Friday, September 11, 2009
There are about 200 mammals in North America. Although I would certainly never say that I know all of them, I thought that I at least would recognize any from the Northeast or Northern Midwest. Wrong! Here's a little furball that we saw on the Mesabi Trail one day.
Appears to be some kind of rodent. OK... holds its tail out behind it, not up, when moving (Chipmunks run with their tails up). There are more rodents than any other kind of mammal. Wonder what the heck this is... some kind of ground squirrel?
Speaking of that tail, maybe it needs a little bit of grooming...
"Pardon me, this is important"
"Actually, it's a little embarrassing... I mean, how would you like to have to clean your tail in public?"
Well, you can believe that I really was eager to look this one up when I got home! Seems this is a Richardson's Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus richardsonii, often called a Flickertail. It is native to short grass prairie. In fact, North Dakota's nickname is the Flickertail State! (I'm embarrassed to say that I thought that was referring to a bird.) So, we saw this in Minnesota, on the Mesabi Trail.
Supposedly they act more like a prairie dog than like other ground squirrels, and they flick their tails a lot... thus "flickertail."
Well, I'm always happy when I'm learning something new about the outdoors, so this was a 5-star day on the trail!
See New Digs for Peabody's Great, Great, Great, Great... etc. for the local ground squirrel