Friday, April 24, 2015

Postscript for Dipod Reintroduction Program

     As per the previous blog post, this is a followup to the local Kangaroo Rat reintroduction project at our wildlife ranch.  As described previously, a nearby population of Dipodomys ordii is being trapped from a field edge under cultivation.  The plan is to reintroduce a few of these fascinating little creatures to a place of former occurrence near the residence of yours truly.  I doubt there's any other similar project anywhere in the world and I'm fine with that.  A biologist may just have somewhat of a different approach to enjoying life than other mindsets.  Some things are interesting to try just because.

Another K-rat is trapped and transplanted to developed K-rat habitat.  This one looks happy in its new home.

Mr. K-rat is released to his new artificial burrow.

...and he seems to like it!

Oatmeal and sunflower seeds were supplied to encourage the K-rat to stay.  Next day, all the seeds were gone and it appeared that the animal stayed at its new home.  It's too early to say the translocation project is successful.  We probably need to relocate a few more to ensure a new population.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

K-rat Stocking Project

     Allow me to introduce you to the Kangaroo Rat (K-rat) which is also known as Dipodomys ordii for its scientific name.  Ranchers in the Red Hills and other parts of Kansas call these "Sand Rats."  As small mammals go, this cute little jumper is among the most fun.  As a resident of sandy land in western Kansas, it is an expert tunnel maker.  And as a nocturnal animal, it haunts fields and roadways at night, scouring the ground for seeds as its main diet.  K-rats are more correctly classed as mice and members of the huge rodent order (group) of mammals.  They prefer exiting their burrows on very dark nights in order to maximize protection from night-time predators such as owls.  Follow the videos and pictures to learn of one of the most unique projects of which you may ever observe-a K-rat introduction project.  We have K-rats on our property, just not out front where they had once occurred.  The objective has been to try to re-create ideal sandy habitat so they would be encouraged to relocate to this area.  So the story goes...
K-rats are very docile animals.  Many times, they are fairly tame as soon as they are caught and can be easily handled.  They are the only small mammal which has a tail longer then its body and they use it for balance and leverage when hopping around--like a miniature kangaroo.

The video is self-explanatory but emphasizes the incredibly efficient kidneys of these small critters and which allow them to be able to rely mainly on only food for their water needs.  

Our K-rat was live-trapped from this burrow which was about to be destroyed by field work.  I was interested in trapping any K-rats from this burrow with an intention of spraying pressurized insulation from a can into the burrow.  The purpose, as can be seen in subsequent pictures, was to make a cast of the burrow system of this K-rat.

This is most of the cast as it appeared in the ground.  Most of this burrow system was set to be destroyed very soon by field work.

Once extracted from the ground, most of this burrow system is illustrated with several entrances and escape routes.  Snakes like K-rats so it is a smart idea for the potential prey to have several options for quick get-aways.

The grandsons helped release the K-rat into the newly managed area where I hope to establish a population.  While this K-rat didn't stay put immediately, we expect it to return and start a home here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lek Sex (X-rated)

     Hey baby, my name is Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, but you can call me Tim for short.  Do you come here often?  Oh, you just came from the lek down the road a mile or so?  Well, let me show you my stuff. Want to dance?  Don't pay any attention to those other guys, they are losers.  As you can see, I'm the main guy right here in the middle of this.  It may be only about 20 feet in diameter, but I own it.  Any of those other guys come in here and they will have to deal with me.  Like my threads?  I'll boom for you.  How's that?  Please, come on in.  Are you in the mood?

Oh baby, love it when you do that!  Don't worry, those other guys won't bother us.  Well dang, interrupted by those jerks!  Hope that was good for you and good luck on the egg laying.  

Want to see the "action" in slow mo?  This hen probably came in to the lek just once to breed.  She will now go an average of about a half mile from a lek, not necessarily this one where she bred, and start laying eggs.  She will lay one-per-day until she has a clutch of about a dozen eggs.  She has to find a clump of grass of from 15-18 inches and well hidden.  Once she starts sitting on the clutch, the young hatch in about 25 days.
Oh baby.  Please come back.  Don't leave yet.  The action is just starting.  Well ok.   Call please?!