Monday, September 22, 2008

Black Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Their population was once as high as 5 billion, now due to massive poisoning programs from farmers and the cropping of their land, this animals population has plummeted! Naturally these guys numbers were controlled by a wide range of predators including weasels, badgers, rattlesnakes, hawks and eagles. A interesting disease also affects the prairie dogs, the bubonic plague - carried by fleas at the base of their burrow, the same disease that wiped out so many people in the 14Th century.
Prairie dogs alert each other of approaching predators through a series of "yaps" explaining the dog part of their name.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)

Upon visiting the hibernaculum in the grasslands national park here in Canada, we stumbled across 50 or more rattlesnakes like this one, As summer ends, up to 1000 rattlesnakes all venture back to these over wintering places where they go underground and intertwine with each other. Other snake species also use the same caves including bull snakes, garter snakes and racers. In days (hopefully) gone farmers used to blow these hibernaculums up with dynamite effectively killing up to 1000 snakes at once and leaving up to 10km square snake free. (not hard to eliminate a species that way eh?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Nutalls Cottontail Rabbit

Coming from Australia where rabbits are a serious pest species, its hard to believe that these guy's are not only native but considered rare here in Canada!! These Nutall's Cottontail rabbits are not the same as the European Rabbit although it would take a trained eye to tell the difference!!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Northern Racoon (Procyon lotor)

These guys are amazingly cheeky! I went for a walk last night at about midnight, when i found a family of Racoon's squabbling on a hay bail. After they scattered, i positioned myself on their hay bail and waited. it did not take long until they came back and jumped up on the hay bail next to me (one came within a foot before it saw me). They make a strange purring noise as they walk.