Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tracking Meadow Voles # 2

When the snow disappeared from the garden in my front yard, the bark at the bottom of my columnar crab apple tree was chewed off. 

The crab tree is located in designated garden area that is only a few meters from the driveway of my neighbour. You can see the pebbled pavement in the lower left of the photo above. My neighbour shovels his driveway and he throws the snow up on my lawn. Over this last winter, the snow was piled up about four to five feet high in this area. Moles choose to nest under deeper piles of snow. The grass above is filled with typical Meadow Vole runways through the grass and burrows.

A close up of the gnawed area shows tiny grooves that fit with the size of Meadow Vole incisors. Tiny chips of orange bark are strewn on the ground at the base. The vole chewed through the bark to reach the nutritious rich inner cambium layer. This layer of undifferentiated cells produces the bark.

Meadow Vole scat was piled around the base of the tree. There is enough scat in the photo above to confirm that the tree offered many meals for the animal.

There was another pile of scat on the other side of the tree. This scat has a slightly darker and different colour. Perhaps this poop was from a second vole with a slightly different diet. Another possibility is that the scat was formed by the same vole but during a time when the diet of this vole was otherwise different? Or perhaps this vole ate and digested more of the outer bark? 

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