The Hubby returned from scavenging for firewood this morning with news.
"I was down in the woods, checking on the drainage in that low part, and I saw this little brown head pop up out of a hole in the ice. What do you suppose it could be?"
Given how things are going lately, I sighed and shrugged and guessed it was some kind of marsh rat. Probably a scout rat, the first of an invading horde. Maybe we'd get lucky and they'd eat some mosquitoes. Or, more likely, the mosquitoes would eat them.
I had forgotten about it by the time we headed down the driveway to go rent a movie. Hubby slammed on the brakes halfway down the drive and pointed to an open spot in the ice. "There it is again!"
And indeed it was. A round, brown little critter, about the size of a large Guinea pig, about half submerged in the water. We looked each other over for a while, each of us curious about the other. Eventually, he decided we were no reason to miss lunch, and proceeded to munch on some new green weeds.
As luck would have it, I had the camera. (I'm learning to keep it close at hand.) The little guy seemed so relaxed, I decided to try getting a little closer. That was pushing it. He made a surprisingly quick getaway, but not before we got a glimpse of his tail. Our rat isn't a rat at all. He's a baby beaver!
We've never seen any adult beavers around, or a beaver dam or mound, but we have seen stumps in neighboring woods with the characteristic pencil-point remains that beavers leave behind. I can't imagine, though, where they are. Hunting for them should provide some much-needed fun.
Man. I love this place.
*Click the photo to enlarge. Again, the quality isn't great because my zoom kinda bites.
P.S. Feb.22: I think Michelle is right about this being a muskrat. Though the pictures of beavers and muskrats on Google are pretty much identical, it seems unlikely that a baby beaver would be out in the woods all alone. We never did catch sight of his back end, but I'm thinking not-a-beaver at this point. The good news is, it's also not-a-scout-rat. They're solitary, and raccoons keep the populations down. We have coons out the wazoo, so the poor little guy's days are probably numbered.
Believe it or not, my research indicates that muskrats is good eatin'. Mmmm. Muskrat gravy. Gimmee somma dat.