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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I (accidentally) Camera Trapped one of New York's Smallest Mammals

It has been just over a year since I blogged last (December 2 2016). It not like I haven't been writing. I just haven't been blogging. I have been writing a monthly column for the Finger Lakes Times called "Speaking of Nature". Between the articles and Facebook posts, my itch to write has been scratched.
But I just retrieved a camera that I had deployed for a year and thought i would share the results here.
My first camera traps were all Cudeebacks and although I loved the fast trigger speeds and their ease of use, they just don't live very long. They become unreliable quickly and I don't use them for class projects. But my Dad and I set one last year with the intention of letting it just soak for months.
Dad and I set a camera trap in December 2016
Fremont, NY
To tell you the truth, I forgot about it. In fact, I had walked within 10 yards of it several times and didn't even notice it. Partly because I wasn't looking for it but partly because it had fallen off the tree...
Last image from an upright camera
Fremont. NY
The strap came loose. There is no evidence an animal did it. But I will never know. By March 30th, here was the angle of the camera:
Red Squirrel
Fremont, NY

And then the strap came completely undone and the camera came to rest on its side,
The original view
Same photo, cropped and rotated
Commercially available camera traps are not designed to capture small animals. Someone can have one especially made or home brew one themselves. So I rarely get shrew photos. And by rarely, I mean three times before. This shrew capture is by far the best. And it is of a shrew i never see in the wild.

Here is a mouse for comparison:
Deermouse
Fremont, NY
And here is the shrew:
Shrew, possibly Masked Shrew
Fremont, NY

I cannot tell the species from this photo. I suspect it is a Masked Shrew but it could be a Pygmy or a larger Smoky. We are talking about an animal that weighs between 2 and 6 grams. It takes 28 grams just to get to an ounce. This animal weighs as much as a few paper clips. They are so light that they do not trigger the live traps I use when capturing small mammals for class. i will probably never photograph this species again unless it is in the hand or I am using a special camera.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see you back on the blog, don't stay away so long next time -- PLEASE.

    Shrews are hard to catch with a camera trap. The Camera Trap Codger has done it more than once and I've caught a short-tailed shrew with a home-brewed camera trap while trying for other small mammals -- In Forest and Field: Wee Ones

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