Squirrel collecting dog’s hair for its nest, video


This video is about a red squirrel, collecting dog’s hair for its nest.

Johannes van der Laan from the Netherlands made the video.

Old owl and falcon pellets, new research


This video is called Dissecting Owl Pellets – Mr. Wizard’s Challenge.

The Dutch Mammal Society reports today about a discovery in Naturalis museum in Leiden.

There, old boxes were found. It turned out that these boxes contained many pellets, leftovers of meals of owls, raptors and other predators. Most were decades old.

Translated from the report:

The pellets were from ten types of predators. Most items were from barn owls (24 items). The long-eared owl was second (11 items). Then were six kestrel items. Pellets from other predators were only sparsely represented. 23 small mammals were identified in the pellets. The most special finds were water shrew, bicoloured white-toothed shrew, root vole, European pine vole and occasional finds of hedgehog, black rat and garden dormouse. In addition, a small number of birds and a small number of insects were found.

The complete report is here.

New chinchilla rat species discovery in Peru


This video is called South American Mammals TRAILER.

From the Earth Times:

Cuscomys comes back from the [dead]

By Dave Armstrong – 29 Sep 2014 15:16:55 GMT

The Asháninka arboreal chinchilla rat (Cuscomys ashaninka) has a new living cousin that also lives in trees and hung out with the Incas. The preserved rodents have been found in tombs so perhaps they have been more treasured in the past than they are now. The new species will be called Cuscomys oblativa as the northern Cusco locality is common to both animals while the head is slightly flattened, compared to its nearest relative, C. ashaninka The body measures 30cm, which males it cat-sized, even for the rat-like tail. The Andean cat, Leopardus jacobita is here for feline followers as “Andean cat in Patagonia”, now available in Argentina, well away from the mountains!

400 years ago, the species was known in pottery buried with Incas, then a photograph in 2009 was thought to indicate 2 new species of arboreal chinchilla rats were extant. The Asháninka species was only discovered in 1999. Roberto Quispe found the live animal in 2009 while the curator of a Mexican museum, Horacio Zeballos has been instrumental in searching Wiñayhuayna, an Inca site on the Machu Picchu trail. Montane and cloud forest dominate the plant communities there, although habitat loss could well be the prime danger for the Cuscomys.

All the researchers are presuming the species is herbivorous, but that can’t be easily proved. The rest of the work involved the discovery of at least 6 other new species to science, all increasing the hope that this big tourist resource of 2 National Parks will be worth greater conservation effort by the Peruvian authorities! More at Mongabay here as “In the shadows of Machu Picchu”.

Shrew and vole research on Texel island


This video says about itself:

Alien Invader: Greater White-toothed Shrew in Ireland

10 May 2009

This is the Greater White-toothed Shrew, an invasive alien species to Ireland.

It was first recorded in this country when skulls of this beast were found in regurgitated Barn Owl pellets in County Tipperary in the winter of 2007/2008. It is a native of the European Continent and North Africa. It has not yet been proven how this species came to be here, though it may have first arrived in 2001.

The arrival of this shrew is only the third accidental mammalian introduction event to Ireland in the last 60 years: Bank Voles from Germany came into Kerry in heavy equipment imported into the country by Siemens when they built the Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric power station on the River Shannon in the 1930s, though their presence was not noticed until August 1964; in 1951 commercial farming of American Mink began in Ireland and escaped animals managed to establish themselves in the wild. Both have used water-courses to spread across the country, and while the vole appears to have been a harmless introduction, the mink is a nuisance for fisheries and can be a problem for rare ground nesting waterbirds and people who keep poultry.

This toothy little fella was trapped for filming for a wildlife programme on invasive species in Ireland (broadcast on TG4 in late 2008). He was placed in this terrarium for filming purposes on the edge of the County Tipperary wood where he was trapped, and I slotted in beside the cameraman to take these shots, which admittedly are not great. The shrew was released immediately afterwards and no harm came to it.

Ecomare museum on Texel in the Netherlands reports today about small mammals research in the Krimbos woodland in the north of the island.

The greater white-toothed shrew was found there.

So were three vole species: tundra vole; bank vole; and field vole.

See also here.

Baby Manx shearwaters back on Scilly islands


This video from Wales is called Skomer Manx Shearwater Burrow Cam.

From British Birds:

Manx Shearwater chicks seen for first time in living memory on St Agnes and Gugh

Published on 23 September 2014

Manx Shearwater chicks have been seen outside their nest burrows for the first time in living memory on St Agnes and Gugh in the Isles of Scilly following the first year of a project to remove rats.

Although Manx Shearwaters have bred on these two islands for decades, eggs and chicks were always eaten by rats while they were still in their burrows. But last winter the islands’ rats were removed and conservationists are now celebrating the first sightings of healthy youngsters.

So far ten chicks have been recorded by project staff, volunteers and trail cameras. By this time of year the adult shearwaters have already left the chicks to migrate to South America for winter. These chicks, left in a healthy condition by their parents, are now coming outside their burrows at night-time to stretch their wings and to ‘stargaze’. By looking at the stars they learn the location of their natal colony so they know exactly where to come back to.

Once they leave the islands they will live out at sea, moving to the southern hemisphere where they winter off the coast of Brazil. Potentially living up to 55 years, they make these long migrations each year.

RSPB Project Manager, Jaclyn Pearson said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to announce this news. It is down to the help of everyone involved in the project so far, particularly the community of folk living on the islands who continue to keep these islands rat-free. This is an official status we hope to achieve by early 2016. But in the meantime with these 10 Manx Shearwater chicks, the project is having exactly the effect we hoped for. We would also thank our funders LIFE, and the Heritage Lottery Fund for making this work possible.

‘We need everyone’s help who visits St Agnes and Gugh to help us to ensure biosecurity measures. Over the next couple of months we have activities to discourage and remove food sources from any potential rats. There will be beach cleans, bin days and an “Apple Day” where we will remove and juice wind fallen apples. Please do come and get involved if you are visiting the islands.’

Isles of Scilly Seabird Ecologist Vickie Heaney said: ‘For so many years now I’ve been returning to the burrows looking for evidence of chicks fledging, only to find old cobwebs over the entrances and no signs of life. So it’s been really brilliant this year for myself, project staff and volunteers to see live chicks stargazing. With their remnants of fluff, they looked fit and healthy; ready for their awe-inspiring migration.’

David Appleton, adviser for the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project for Natural England, said: ‘This is excellent news – it’s early stages but we are very hopeful about the bird’s recovery on St Agnes and Gugh. We’ll know more when they return to breed in 2–4 years. In the meantime, everyone is working hard to keep rats off the islands and we’re asking residents and visitors to report any rat sightings to the hotline number and to thoroughly check for “stowaways” on transport to the islands.’

If people think they see rats on either St Agnes or Gugh they are asked to call the project ‘Rat on a rat’ hot-line on 01720 422153. The project team and islanders will then inspect the area and set up surveillance and incursion response measures.

This is a partnership project between RSPB, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Natural England and Duchy of Cornwall. The project is funded by LIFE, the EU’s programme for financing key environmental schemes across the continent and a £269,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Wild boar smell truffles, not acorns


This is a wild boar video, recorded in winter in Sweden.

Translated from Roelof Kleis in the Netherlands:

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Wild boar have a good nose for truffles. But not for acorns, says PhD student Lennart Suselbeek of Wageningen University. Looking for acorns they search randomly, according to research into how wild boar search for hidden acorns.

Suselbeek comes to that conclusion based on experiments in the lab and in nature. The aim of the study was to determine whether wild boar have influence on the way that wood mice hide acorns. Wild boars, like mice, love acorns. So they are competitors. But when it comes to defending its stock, the mouse is no match for the boar. It must be smart. They cannot be smart by hiding everything at the same place, but by making many different small stock sheds. So, risk spreading.