Shallow Thoughts : : 11

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Fri, 11 May 2007

Great Deals on Brush Mouse

The previous entry covered springtime butterflies, but it's springtime in the back yard, too.

Notch (our longtime resident squirrel) is heavily pregnant. It's not slowing her down much -- she still leaps and climbs gracefully -- but apparently raging hormones in a pregnant squirrel create a desperate need to bury walnuts. She's here all day long, demanding one walnut after another. She isn't very interested in eating, only burying.

We play games. Today I handed her a walnut then raised it while she was still holding it; she hung on for a few seconds, then pulled her hind legs up, did a backflip, landed on her forelegs and scampered off, to reappear a few minutes later wanting another one.

Ringtail the fox squirrel is still with us, as is a young male Eastern grey (perhaps the father of Notch's brood?) and the most recent arrival, a male fox squirrel. But in addition, we have a new visitor we've only seen a few times: a mouse, larger than a house mouse but smaller than a black rat. It's apparently some kind of native mouse. (Good! That's much more interesting, plus it means it's far less likely to want to move inside the house. Wildlife is great fun outdoors, less fun when they want to move in with you.)

So what kind of mouse is it? Hey, no problem -- there are only thirty or forty species of native mouse in my mammals field guide! Okay, so identifying a mouse that you only see for a few seconds at a time isn't terribly easy. But one caught my eye pretty early on: the brush mouse with its long ears and habit of moving by jumping, like our mouse. I don't know for sure that this is a brush mouse, but it seems like a reasonable first guess.

When I google for "brush mouse", the links aren't that useful, but the ads are intriguing. Google presents two sponsored ads. One is a colored ad at the top of the page for a Mouse Brush, from I know someone who keeps mice -- I'll have to ask her if she has a Mouse Brush. I thought they normally kept themselves clean pretty well without needing to be brushed, but you never know, maybe those fancy longhaired mice need some help.

The second ad was over on the right and was even more interesting. It said:

Brush Mouse
Great deals on Brush Mouse
Shop on eBay and Save!

That's a relief -- if anything happens to our brush mouse, now we know where we can get a new one!

It's just amazing the sorts of things you can find on ebay.

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[ 21:53 May 11, 2007    More nature | permalink to this entry | ]

Spring Butterfly Madness

It's spring, and butterflies are everywhere in the local parks. If you like butterflies and live in Northern California (or anywhere with a similar climate), get yourself out this weekend ot check out the action! There are a few northern checkerspots, tiger swallowtails and others flitting about, but the real partiers are the variable checkerspots.

[Variable checkerspot butterflies on yerba santa] At Stevens Creek, they're clustered in huge numbers on the pale blue-violet flowers of yerba santa. Some yerba santa bushes are completely covered with butterflies. Others aren't: a closer look shows that those bushes have flowers pointing down, rather than up. Maybe once a flower is pollinated and its nectar gone, it sags?

[Variable checkerspot butterflies on buckeye flowers] On the other side of the road, at Piccheti Ranch, yerba santa isn't so common, and the checkerspots gather on the last of the clusters of buckeye flowers.

And one more checkerspot-on-yerba-santa picture, just 'cause they're pretty.

[ 21:17 May 11, 2007    More nature | permalink to this entry | ]