Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Babe in the Woods

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.

13 comments:

Sylvia K said...

What a great shot! How lucky is that! to see him AND have your camera! I know how you feel, there are times when one does so need a quick pick-me-up! These days those times come around a little too frequently. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Have a great day!

ramblingwoods.com said...

I think that is a muskrat. I don't see the tail but the face and size are correct.....Here the neighbor's trap and drown them..ain't people great?...Michelle

MyMaracas said...

Thanks, Sylvia! I'll be back often, I'm sure.

Michelle... well, nuts. I'm looking on images on Yahoo, and you're right, the face and body look exactly right. But it didn't have that long tail. It had a short, broad, flat one. I think. I'll have to try sneaking up on it again.

City Mouse said...

I can't believe you were able to get a photo! That's so awesome! Just terrific - reminds me why I am moving to the country, even though I'm not quite there yet.

Terri said...

That's so cool. How big is it? Have you seen any evidence, like chewed up trees?

spookydragonfly said...

Very cool shot!

Deb said...

Hi ~ Isn't it great when we get to observe nature up close and personal! Enjoy your day!

~ Lor said...

Can't see his tail, but he kind of looks like a beaver to me.

PJ said...

What a great gift! I hope they don't dam something up and flood your property.

MyMaracas said...

City Mouse, you're going to love it out there, you really are.

Terry, its body is about the same size as a squirrel, but it's much chunkier. There are a few chewed trees around, but not where we spotted this critter.

Spooky and Deb, thanks! I felt pretty lucky in getting it.

Lor, could be, but I'm leaning toward muskrat, now that I know what those are.

PJ, too late. We're already living in a swamp. I'm trying to make the best of it.

My {S.T.U.F.F.} :: said...

I can't help you out with a positive I.D. on this little guy...
I am a displaced {happily} total city girl, living in a totally rural area =)

{luv} the pic, not looking forward to encountering this type of animal, but glad I'll have some frame of reference.

Thanx for the blog {luv}. I'm usually more prompt than this with responding, been under the weather for the last three days.
Thanx too, for the follow.

Homeopath said...

Interesting blog......

~ Lor said...

He's cute whatever he is! :)