Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Neighbors

          The new neighbors are a family of mice that have taken up residence under our Hesperaloe (red yucca) plant.   We disagree on which species of mouse.   Actually Kent denies that they are mice.  He also says they must go.  Soon.   
          Neither of us has seen the new wildlife, and neither of us knows anything about desert mice or rats.   That doesn't keep us from having an opinion and being certain that our opinion is the correct one.
          Kent says they are pack rats.   I know this is wrong because I saw a pack rat nest at the White Tank Mountains.  It was at the nature center and labeled.   It was larger and much less tidy.
          I think this is the home of cactus mice.   We have golden barrel cacti and a few other species of cactus nearby.    My Pocket Naturalist, Southwestern Desert Life edition, shows 5 local varieties:  Desert Shrew, Kangaroo Rat, House Mouse, White-Throated Woodrat, and Cactus Mouse.     Of the choices, the Desert Shrew grows to a mere 4 inches, which would be acceptable.   The Woodrat, on the other hand, grows to 16 huge inches.   Not so acceptable. 
         The Cactus Mouse is a medium size, 8 inches, light brown or beige in color, with cute ears.   So I am convinced that, if we have to have this variety of neighbors, I want them to be from the Cactus family.  
          The Pocket Naturalist doesn't show Pack Rats or Citrus Rats, two local varieties that I know exist here.  So it is possible that our little friends are something entirely different.   For now, however, I choose to believe they are cactus mice.
Posted by PicasaHere's a closer view of the nest.    Does anyone really know what they are?

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