Follow by Email

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gray Squirrel and Eastern Chipmunk size comparison

It has been a busy week and I have not posted as I should have. I only have a single camera out but have a nice pair of photos that show the large size difference between gray squirrels and Eastern chipmunks. I used Squirrel Paste again as bait. These photos were in our backyard in Seneca Falls, NY.

Gray squirrel
(6/11, Seneca Falls NY)


Gray Squirrel: One folk name I have heard for this species is "bushytail" and this photo sure shows why. The tail is as large as the body and perhaps acts as a lure or decoy for predators to focus their attention away from the more important parts of the squirrel anatomy. Anecdotally, we do not seem to have as many gray squirrels this year as we usually do. Perhaps I am just not watching closely enough.







Eastern chipmunk
(6/11, Seneca Falls, NY)


Eastern chipmunk: Despite the name, this guy is also a squirrel. As this photo shows, they are good climbers although they burrow underground. This is our only species of chipmunk in New York. We seem to have more chipmunks than usual this year.









Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Camera trap workshop at Muller Field Station (FLCC)

Raccoon in swamp
(6/11, Muller Field Station)
Four participants attended a one day workshop on the use of camera traps and track boards on June 20th at the Muller Field Station (owned by Finger Lakes Community College). Through a grant, we have been able to create five "wildlife kits" for teachers to sign out. Each kit contains two camera traps, one digital camera, 12 Track Finder books and a set of common mammal track replicas.

Six days earlier, Sasha Mackenzie and I set out eight Cuddeback Capture cameras (four infrared and four white light flash). We set them in various locations. For example, we attached one to the leg of a bench in the lawn near the channel, baited with a tin of sardines. Another we placed in some ash trees, baited with Squirrel Paste (Havahart product). We even got in the canoes and set five cameras along the channel, hoping for some semi-aquatic mammals. I concocted a bait from the sardine oil and Vaseline. The petroleum jelly acts to hold the oil in place longer than the oil alone. From past experience, we knew we would get many coon photos and I sprayed raccoon urine at several of the sets just to make sure of attracting some of the bandits.

Red squirrel in mid air!
(6/11, Muller Field Station)
The morning of the workshop, we all gathered in the great room and I began with an overview of the day's events and goals. I had prepared a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation that went over the basics of camera trapping and how I use them in my classes. We passed around one of the cameras so everyone could see how it works. I brought everyone outside to the camera trap baited with Squirrel Paste. Everyone could crowd around the camera so we could all see it in operation. We had 26 photos on that camera and not only was the Squirrel Paste all gone, but the bark was gnawed off so the rodents could get every last bit. At left is the best photo of that lot. At first, I thought we had captured a flying squirrel, but closer examination reveals this is a red squirrel in mid air. Regardless, it is a stunning photo and an instant favorite among the group.
Retrieving camera traps
(6/11, Muller Field Station)
From there, we paired up and headed into the canoes. Sasha and I had 4 different sets out (one with two cameras) and were really hoping for some semi-aquatic mammals. As we retrieved the cameras, we were excited to find that we had numerous photos on each. We rounded a bend to find an immature bald eagle watching our progress at close range. When the last camera was gathered, there was excitement in each boat as we paddled back to the field station to check our SD cards.

Infrared photo of raccoon
(6/11, Muller Field Station)



As stated earlier, I expected lots of raccoon photos. And we were not disappointed. Here are a few of the better ones. I am not a fan of the IR cameras. I would rather have the crisp photos from the flash cameras. However, we have some of each as the IRs do have their advantages. I created this set along a log hoping for a mink, but got coons and red squirrels instead. Still, an interesting photo and we found that my sardine oil and Vaseline concoction held up well for the week.








Raccoon
(6/11, Muller Field Station)

Beaver
(6/11, Muller Field Station)
We totaled 16 species (well, 17 if you count the bullfrog that was on a log when a bird triggered the camera) in all with half of them birds.  I could not find my castor scent, so we only ended up with one beaver photo. But beaver pics are always nice. They are such a surprising looking animal that they look good at almost any angle. Look at the way the wet fur ripples on the right side of the animal.... just a cool photo!






Mink
(6/11, Muller Field Station)
We managed to document one other semi-aquatic mammal and like the beaver, only captured it in a single image. This is perhaps my favorite camera trapped mink. The pose is interesting and the face is fully visible. We didn't do a good enough job of keeping track of which SD card came from which set, so I am unsure what this set was baited with. Interestingly, when we ran the Wetlands Mammal class last fall we did not get a single photo of a mink but did get a photo of river otter. There have to be far more mink than otters so we were not expecting that result. It gave me a chance to talk to the students about the danger of relying on only one trial for your data (or your assumptions). 

Identifying tracks
(6/11, Muller Field Station)
When the camera trapping was done, Sasha took over and presented some basics on tracks, trails and animal feet. She started with a PowerPoint and then a description of how to use the Track Finder book. Once that was over, we went out to the picnic tables and practiced identifying tracks and trails in containers of sand. Sasha used the rubber track replicas from Acorn Nauralists to make the imprints. Everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge!




Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

With only an hour left to Father's Day, I thought I would squeeze in a post honoring all those dads out there. Check here for my Mother's Day post from May. For that post, it was easy for me to find photos I have taken of females with their cute little ones trailing along. For fathers, it is a little trickier. The majority of mammal males do not assist in the child rearing. Secondly, many mammals are not sexually dimorhpic, so even if I HAD a photo of good old dad helping with the kids, we may not even be able to tell. So I present for you today a few photos of male mammals striving to be dads:

Bull elk bugling
(9/10, Yellowstone National Park)
ELK: This past September, Danika and I spent a week in Yellowstone National Park. One of the highlights for me was a battle we witnessed between two bull elk. The best matches are between males that are of similar size and strength. We pulled into a parking area and started photographing a nice bull and his harem (of about 12 cows). Suddenly, he stood up and started bugling. He bugled as he crossed the small creek and there in the distance was the challenger. The bull spotted (or heard?) him long before any of the rest of us did. They squared off and started in. Elk battles are mostly pushing matches. This one ranged over a large area and lasted almost 20 minutes. At times, the bulls were fairly close. We could see, hear and smell all the action (pretty musky!). We felt very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
Bull elk fighting
(9/10, Yellowstone National Park)














One of the cows was so curious about the action, she kept getting closer and closer.
Bull elk fighting
(9/10, Yellowstone National Park)


In the end, the challenger was defeated and the bull retained his harem. Presumably, this Father's Day, that bull has several little calves wishing him well, making him cards and buying him ties...

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mist netting for bats!!! PART II

Tanner DeWolf erects bat mist net
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
Our second night of mist netting for bats was as exciting as our first (see previous post). Again, the nets were placed in the woodlot along the main pathway. This provided a clear area for the nets themselves with a canopy overhead. Apparently, this is an ideal situation to capture many bat species. I know from mist netting birds that a net placed in the open is often spotted and avoided. I could only imagine that the canopy cover provided a barricade of sorts funneling the bats into the nets rather than around them. As I mentioned in my last post, we used three nets stacked on top of each other. This requires some very tall and light poles. Micheal and Tanner had a rig that consisted of four aluminum poles that fit together via tapered ends. At the top of the end pole was a pulley so the net could be raised and lowered like a flagpole. At the bottom of the first pole was a cleat to wrap the pull rope around. Each net also had two guide lines from the top that got tied off at angles to help secure the pole.

Even more interesting than the pole was the rig used to attach the nets. As you may have seen in my posts regarding mist netting birds, the elastic loops of the net are simply wrapped around the pole and if I need to lower the net, I simply tug on it until it slides down. However I am not stacking three nets on top of each other (the top of the highest net rises to about 25 feet off the ground). For the bat nets, a simple but ingenious series of PVC pipe slices and carabiners  is used to attach the nets. These PVC cookies are attached to a rope that can raise and lower the series. It worked very well and kept the nets properly spaced to boot.
Tanner assists John Van Niel in attaching mist nets
(Photo by: Elaina Burns)
As with the first night, we set the nets at sunset and noted the time. We were to check the nets every ten minutes. On the very first net check, we watched a bat actually fly right into the net. And to our surprise and delight found it was a red bat! First off, this was a new species for us. Secondly, it was really striking. That reddish color was amazing. Finally, Micheal had told us that we were far more likely to catch "cave bats" rather than "tree bats" as the tree bats tended to fly higher, above the tree canopy. And the red bat is one of the three species of tree bats in NY State. Tree bats roost singly, often under the bark of trees while cave bats roost colonially, often in caves. But common names can be deceiving. If I found a group of little brown bats roosting in a hollow tree, they would still be cave bats :)

Removing red bat from mist net
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
Here is a photo of Clinton Krager taking the bat out of the net. Notice the sharp fold at the tip of the wing on this species. At first, I assumed the wing was damaged! But that is normal for this species. That fold is literally the last joint of a finger bone. Bats are in the Order Chiroptera which translates to "hand wing" and that is a good description of their anatomy. The bones you see that form the support for the wing membrane are finger bones. Note that the thumb has remained small and usually has a sharp nail to aid in climbing. By the way, most of the bats we removed from the nets squawked and showed their teeth. This bat was not in pain but clearly he was not happy.

Dorsal side of a red bat showing the furred tail
and wing membrane
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
We brought the bat to Micheal to confirm the identification and he showed us a few other key characteristics of tree bats. He had mentioned that they were hairier than the cave bats during our Friday lecture, but I wasn't sure what he meant. Here he shows us the fully furred rear of the tail as well as the partially furred back of the wing. I wonder if these are adaptations to retain heat for a species that roosts alone rather than in a group.






Measuring the forearm of a red bat
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
There are some standard measurements taken on all bat species. In the last entry, I talked about measuring the tragus (inside the ear). Here is a photo of Micheal measuring the forearm of the red bat. He told us that it is standard to take all measurements on the right side of the animal and that forearm measurements are unique to bats. There would be little use in taking that metric in other types of mammals.

Inspecting the nipple of a red bat
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)




While taking measurements, Micheal determined that this bat was pregnant. He pointed out the somewhat obvious bulge and remarked that the weight of the pup (or two in some species) is a considerable load for the mother and impacts her ability to fly and specifically on her ability to take off. Micheal gently blew on the hairs of the bat (much as I do on the feathers of a bird when I look for a brood patch) in order to expose the nipples. Since her nipples were hairless, that indicated that she had been a successful breeder in the past. Apparently, once a pup nurses, the hairs on the nipple are worn off and are never replaced. It is not possible to tell how long ago she had young or how many of them she produced. But it is a good measurement that shows she HAS been successful in the past. I am willing to bet that most people have never thought of bat milk before! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mist netting for bats!!! PART I

Big brown bat in mist net
(6/11, Canandaigua, NY)
I just got my first taste of mist netting for bats and I am hooked! I have been catching birds for almost 15 years but have no experience with bats. Thanks to a grant from the NSF, several of us have been able to participate in training to increase our field research skills. Clinton Krager from the Science Department wanted to start a project on bats and I asked to tag along for the training he would need to receive.

Step one in the process was to find someone willing to conduct the training. I suggested Micheal Fishman, whom I first met through our mutual volunteerism at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge about a decade ago. Micheal readily agreed and a date was settled for early June.

Step two was to get our rabies pre-exposure vaccinations. This was a series of three shots, over about a month and is the same as what one would receive AFTER a bite.

Clinton Krager (center) and Micheal Fishman (right)
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
The evening started with all participants (faculty, staff, students and alums of FLCC) enjoying a very informative presentation by Micheal while we scarfed down pizza and soda and peppered him with questions. We learned what to look for in identifying the nine species of bats in NY while in the hand as well as a fair amount of anatomy and physiology. The lecture concluded with a discussion of rabies and of course, white nose syndrome (WNS). For those of you not familiar with WNS, let me refer you to the NYS DEC website for more information.

Micheal uses a triple stacked net rig. On this day, we erected three sets, each six meters wide and 2.6 meters high. Each handler was required to wear leather gloves with rubber gloves over them. The rubber gloves were thrown out before a new bat was handled to reduce the chances of transferring anything (such as fungus or rabies virus) from one bat to another.

Our catch for the night:
Seven big brown bats
One little brown bat
Since we did not mark the bats, we cannot confirm (but suspected one) any recaptures. We got to see males and females (one pregnant) and Micheal taught us how to evaluate the nipple to determine if the females had been successful breeders in the past.

Tanner DeWolf removes bat from mist net
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
I found the process of removing the bats from the mist net similar but not identical to removing birds. For example, birds do not bite through nets as the bats seemed to do. In addition, the wings on a bat are just shaped so differently from bird wings that I had some difficulty working the net over them at first. When I first started netting birds, I always carried a small Swiss army knife so I had scissors and a toothpick handy. The scissors are a last resort, but the toothpick worked great to tease the net off a toe or over the alula feathers. Micheal and his assistant Tanner used mechanical pencils to help them get the net strands off the bats and it worked like a charm.
John Van Niel removing bat from mist net
(Photo by Elaina Burns)
We only caught one little brown bat, but I got to take it out of the net. To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure of the identity of the species until Micheal confirmed it for us at the processing station. As I get to handle more bats, I am sure that I will get better at identifying them in the hand.













Measuring the tragus on a
little brown bat



















Bat bands
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
We did not band the bats but Micheal showed us the bands. On a bird, you band just above the toes. On a bat, you place the band on the wing. Further, a bird band is closed completely around the bird's "leg" (actually the foot... for some discussion and photos about bird banding see this post ) while a bat band is pinched onto an arm bone (sort of like an ear cuff is placed on a person's ear).






The final two photos of this entry show photos of back lit wings of two different big brown bats (they were pretty imaginative when they names these species weren't they??). The back lighting shows any necrotic tissue present that may be from WNS. This first photo does not show much damage. You are looking for small white spots...
In this next photo, the damage is more extensive.
Photographing wing to show necrotic tissue
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)
And this was all on Friday! I still have Saturday to write about....
Clinton Krager
(6/11, Canandaigua NY)

Monday, June 13, 2011

American Robin nesting in a bicycle helmet

American robin nest in bike helmet
(6/11, Seneca Falls NY)
I picked up my daughter yesterday from her friend's house and found that they had also been playing host to an American robin pair that decided to build a nest inside a bicycle helmet hanging from the handles of a bike resting inches from their back door. According to Amy, it took only a single short day for the robins to build the nest. Although she laid three eggs, only two hatched. The female quickly became accustomed to people coming and going from the house. She even holds tight when the family dog sits on the step only two feet away.

Today I went back to the house with my camera and took 14 photos. Here, I present the two best. Robins are so common that most people recognize one when they see it. However, few people know a robin well enough that they could describe details like the white around the eye, the streaking under the chin or the tail spots on the outer rectrices. I challenge my students to spend time familiarizing themselves with the everyday species. I would challenge you to do the same!
American robin nest in bicycle helmet
(6/11, Seneca Falls NY)

Connecticut Mountain Lion in the news; killed by car

I have so much to blog about but decided to tackle this post first...

Reuters photo of road killed mt. lion
(Taken from Yahoo! site)
On June 11, 2011 a mountain lion was hit and killed by an SUV in Connecticut. Here is a link to the Yahoo article since they allow comments. As I write this post, the article is only a day old and has over 1200 comments.  A common theme among the posters is that the state's Department of Environmental Protection in CT and the state agencies all throughout the East has been denying, covering up and otherwise lying to the public concerning the existence of mountain lions in the Eastern United States. Scores of people are providing their own sightings as proof that these cats exist. However, I am interpreting the evidence in a completely different light. Let me explain:

Earlier in the month, several people reported seeing a mountain lion in a town about 45 miles from where this cat was killed. Then a resident snapped a blurry photo and the DEP investigated by measuring the tree in the photo and even used a pet dog to re-stage the scene (the dog was led to the same location as the animal photographed and since the dog is of a known size, they could determine the size of the creature in the photo). Based on that investigation, the DEP determined the critter in the photo WAS a mountain lion. Tracks were found and casts were made. The eyewitness testimony was backed up by compelling physical evidence that anyone could examine.

About one week and 45 miles later, a mountain lion is hit by a vehicle and killed. Some are claiming that these instances are proof that the state wildlife agency has been lying to the public for years. However, I am interpreting these stories differently. They show that when the DEP is presented with proof of the existence of mountain lions, they admit it and present it to the public. Secondly, they show that when these animals truly DO occur in an area, providing concrete proof of their existence is easier than some would want us to believe.  The odds are good that the cat that was killed is somehow related to the mountain lion that was photographed (either the exact same individual or they share a common origin). It is less likely that they are completely unrelated and happened to both have surfaced at the same time. And it is even more unlikely that mountain lions have been wandering in Connecticut (or any other state) for decades (the length of time sightings have been reported) and only now are being photographed and hit by cars.

Measuring mountain lion stride
(Great Falls, Montana 2/11)
In summary, everywhere mountain lions exist, they are documented through physical evidence. They are struck by vehicles, they are photographed by camera traps, etc etc. But most importantly, they leave tracks behind. Certainly, snow provides the easiest medium for finding tracks, but even in places with little snow (like Connecticut) or no snow like Florida, mountain lions and other terrestrial critters still leave tracks in dirt, sand and mud. I will not be surprised if no new photos emerge of the living mountain lion in Greenwich. I will not be surprised when the state DEP announces that the mountain lion killed shows signs of a captive life (for example, other mountain lions killed in the east over the past few decades have been neutered, declawed, show wear marks to their paws that are consistent with captive pacing rather than free-roaming travel, and of course, South American or Western DNA). And unfortunately, I will not be surprised when some take this opportunity to bash the professional wildlife community simply because they do not tell them what they want to hear.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Conservation Field Camp 2011: Mist netting Part II

Let me provide a little more details about mist netting. All of the photos that include me were taken by Erin Lord, one of the wildlife technicians hired for the class (Thanks Erin!).

Bander removes bird from net
(5/11, Photo by Erin Lord)
I use nets that are 10 meters long and have a fairly fine mesh to catch smaller birds. The net is constructed of nylon and can be nearly invisible to the naked eye when there is vegetation in the background. This is important as birds have tremendous visual acuity. There are support lines that run along the net called trammel lines. The netting that runs from one parallel trammel line to the next is wider than it needs to be so that some slack is created. This is the "bag" that the bird is captured in.  That's me on the left with my back to the camera. Banders always wear old clothes since birds often defecate in the hand. Mist netters have to additionally eschew buttons, zippers and anything else that can easily tangle in the nets. As I mention in a previous post the purpose of the mist netting is merely for demonstration and I rarely catch more than a few birds in the hour or so I conduct the lesson. This year was notable for some very colorful captures.
Chestnut-sided warbler in mist net
(5/11, South Bristol NY)
On Monday, I captured this male chestnut-sided warbler. The weather had cleared just enough to set out the nets and within minutes I had my first catch of the day. I just love the lemon cap! The birds often look to be caught worse than they really are. I often have a gaggle of students watching me extract a bird, so there is a little extra pressure to do it quickly. But I always remember that the health of the bird comes first.





Removing bird from mist net
(5/11, Photo by Erin Lord)


Some general principals for removing birds from a net: Keep the legs parallel to prevent injury. Never move a wing in a way that the bird wouldn't. Be careful when tugging so as not to strain the bird. Students always want to help, but having them hold the net actually makes it harder for me to remove the bird since I have a hard time telling when I am pulling on the bird too much.

Occasionally, a bird is so tangled that I have to cut the net. In those cases, I make as few cuts as possible. Partly to save the net, but mostly to avoid removing a bird while retaining strands of netting around it. Imagine cutting a bird from a net but leaving a "vest" of netting on it to abraid its skin for the rest of its life.







Chestnut-sided warbler in the hand
(5/11, Photo by Erin Lord)
Once I have the bird out of the net, I can better inspect it for overall condition. Here I am holding him in the "photographer's grip". I have his legs parallel between my first two fingers with my knuckles towards the bird and I use my thumb to hold the legs in place. A firm grip prevents the bird from slipping and sliding and perhaps straining his legs.

In this grip, I watch for signs of stress. These include a drooping head, closed eyes (or eye), panting or other listless behavior. A rookie mistake is to assume that a quiet bird is good while a squawking bird is bad. In fact, the opposite is often the case. But his guy looks bright and alert....









Banding a female American redstart
(5/11 Photo by Erin Lord)
For some reason, I cannot find the photo of me banding the chestnut-sided warbler, so we will settle for this photo of the other warbler I caught that day: a female American redstart. I can tell this is a female because she is brownish with yellow patches. A male is black with orange patches (hence the nickname "pocket oriole" for this small bird). I am holding her in what is called the bander's grip. The first two fingers now go gently around the neck and are held just tight enough so the head cannot slip through. A bird's head is much wider than the neck so this is a safe way to hold one while allowing it to breathe. Fun fact: If you enlarge the photo, you can see that I am placing the band below the bird's ankle. Most people think of that part of the leg as the shin, but a bird actually walks on its toes. Think about it. Knees bend in the opposite direction as the ankle, so it is actually a "foot band" although we all call it a "leg band" :)

Bander and conservation students
(5/11, Photo by Erin Lord)
Once I have the bird properly banded, I take it around for the students to see up close and personal. In this photo, I am showing the bird to Jen, one of my favorite students (even though she is a Yankees fan). I love to watch how excited people get around live wild birds and I never forget how privledged I am to be able to introduce them to something so special.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Conservation Field Camp 2011: Small Mammal Trapping

Anne Schnell checks small
mammal traps with students
(5/11, South Bristol NY)
This is the third post about CON 190: Conservation Field Camp, a required course for our conservation students at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC). I have written about camera trapping and mist netting so far, but today's entry will be about small mammal trapping. Largely, I am an observer for this portion of the day. Clinton Krager is the lead instructor with Anne Schnell as co-instructor. The animals are captured using Sherman traps. These are live traps made of aluminum or galvanized sheet metal (I found a short history of Sherman traps here). We were trapping in a new location this year and had scoped it out a few days before the class began. Clinton had to set all 70 traps the night before Camp began. The traps are for educational reasons, so there is no need to place the traps randomly. We set them in rows in order to make it easier to check them and not miss any. Each trap gets a bright yellow flag to mark its presence.

We averaged 18 animals each day. That gave plenty of students a chance to try their hand at getting an animal out of the trap safely, identify it, determine gender and weight. The traps were all baited with the same home remedy concoction of Clinton's. I do not know the whole recipe can I can say for sure that it contains flour, molasses, peanuts, peanut butter, bird seed and tastes delicious... For some reason, each year I have to take a little taste. I think all good biologists should make the effort to know what they are trying to give their subjects. I draw the line at decade old squirrel paste though...

Removing animal from Sherman trap
(5/11, South Bristol NY)
The technique to remove an animal from the trap is to place a cloth bag around the back of the trap and flip it open so the animal has no where to go but into the bag. Well, that is not exactly true. Most often, they chose to stay right in the trap and need a little shaking to give them the idea that it would be better to exit. When the students do this for the first time, they are often reluctant to shake too hard (I am always a little worried about the ones that do not have this reluctance). So they shake and immediately the bait and cotton balls fall into the bag. Some get excited and think that is the animal and reach down to close the bag around it and the real animal escapes. I always picture the mouse in the Sherman trap throwing the cotton balls in one direction and darting in the other, but I have no direct observation of this behavior.

We caught only Rodentia. But we did get a nice diversity. In the week we managed:

-Red Squirrel
-Eastern Chipmunk
-Northern Flying Squirrel
-Meadow Jumping Mouse (many!!)
-Woodland Jumping Mouse (1)
-Deer Mouse
-White-footed Mouse
Clinton Krager with students
(5/11, South Bristol NY)
Red squirrel
(5/11, South Bristol NY)
Two of my favorite captures were the red squirrel and the jumping mice. This year I took one of the reds out of the trap without getting bit :) Here is a nice photo close up of a red squirrel that had a small cut on his ear from the trap. Red squirrels are most associated with coniferous trees although they can be found in deciduous forests as well.

Clinton Krager holding a red squirrel
(5/11, South Bristol NY)













After weighing the animal, we return it to the location where we caught it.














Meadow jumping mouse
(5/09, South Bristol NY)
My final photo is of a meadow jumping mouse from a Field Camp past. Check out those feet! Absolutely amazing... Jumping mice are actually pretty common but not commonly identified. I think people see something jump away and think "frog". There were a few days when we caught six jumping mice. Trivia: Jumping mice are the only rodents in NY with grooved incisors. Our rabbits and hares have grooved incisors as well.