145Days #221 Dusky Woodrat
For the past twenty-five years my husband has told me about some tiny bunny kind of nocturnal animals he has glimpsed at dusk or in the early morning light. He told me that they hop, but appear to burrow and have a labyrinth of tunnels in that area by the top of the driveway. He has taken me to see the small holes about 1-1/4″ inches or 25mm in diameter that they immediately disappear into as soon as he spots one.
A couple of weeks ago, he saw one in the yard. It was on the lawn under the bird feeder cleaning up the spilled seeds. When I went to see, it shot away across the lawn and under the fern then quickly over the edge of the retaining wall and into the shallow edge of the water. In an instance it had disappeared into the tall grass where the only evidence was seeing an occasional reed of grass wiggle.
A few days later early in the morning from an upstairs window I saw him under the feeder. I sneaked downstairs, grabbed my camera changed to the telephoto lens and crept out the side door to inch my way around the deck to where I could see it. It caught my movement and hopped in a flash under the sword fern. I watched through the view finder and waited. Soon the camera could pick up the white chest and white feet of it, where I could not see it at all with my eyes.
I began to tape video of it. It would sneak back under the feeder, pull up some dried grass, throw it over its back as camouflage and quietly pick up seeds and eat them squirrel style by sitting on its hind feet and holding the seeds in its paws. I was amazed out how it actions mimicked a squirrel, but it had proportionately slightly bigger round ears and when it moved about it hopped two hind feet together, two front feet extending exactly like a rabbit.
The dark brown fun shaded to a white tummy and four white feet. The edges of the ears were tipped in black and its very long and hairless tail was black. It moved its tail around squirrel fashion using it for balance. It took some research by my son after he saw the footage and the pictures to find out it is a Dusky Woodrat. It is not a rat, nor a bunny, nor a squirrel, but a small rodent of its own genus.
In the above photo it appears to be a long skinny creature which is a distortion due to the slow shutter speed required in the dim light.
I apologize for the poor quality photo, but tonight I’ll embrace the embarrassment simply because this is a rare sighting that it took me 25 years to get on film (or more technically an SD card). The photo also does not show this guy to any advantage, its fur is blurred due to its speed, but proof is sometimes more important than quality. My hope is that it will become accustomed to us and will allow a closer photo when the lighting is better.
Have you ever taken a photograph that you shared even though it was not a good photo but simply because it was evidence of something rarely seen or understood? You know, pictures of bigfoot or a flying saucer or some other legend?