11 November 2010

Keeping Company With A Shrew

Two rodent species shared the runway with the shrew. The Four-Striped Grass Mouse (Streepmuis - Rhabdomys pumilio) showed itself only during the day.

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Video: An adult Four-Striped Grass Mouse made a short visit

The adult mouse made an appearance twice, but a baby mouse also showed up on two separate occasions.

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Video: The baby mouse is much smaller when compared to the adult in the above video

Mouse numbers seem to have dropped after much of the grassy slopes were burnt at the end of summer. The new grass that sprouted during the wet winter months are now bearing seed and I'm starting to notice more mice again, especially youngsters like this one.

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Video: Youngster hopping along

Not surprisingly the other, and most frequent, user of the runway is our old friend the Vlei Rat. The Vlei Rat seems to be, for the most part, the creator and maintainer of this runway.

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Video: Mr Vlei Rat gracing us with his presence

There are a bunch of different Vlei Rat species that look all very similar, but I'm reasonably sure this is the classic Vlei Rat (Vleirot - Otomys irroratus).

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Video: It is tricky to place the camera so close to the trail and still get the camera's sensor to trigger in the desired area - the distance between the lens and the sensor becomes a factor...

The interesting thing about the Vlei Rat is that, like the shrew, it is active both during the day and at night.

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Video: He is clearly awake and not merely sleep walking


Those of you wondering just what exactly a "vlei" is can check out these links over here and over here. I don't think the word is as common as another Afrikaans word "veld" that is found more frequently in English (over here and over here).

While I'm at it I might even explain where the "berg" part of Tygerberg comes from over here (it means "mountain, etc.").

The Tyger part is a bit older and more confusing. Some of the early settlers sometimes referred to Leopards as Tygers/Tijger (or similar), which implies a tiger. Some where familiar with the true tiger and the word must have spred around and stuck. In modern Afrikaans a tiger is a Tier and the word Tyger is not used anymore. However many rural and older people still refer to a Leopard as a Tier (tiger) even though they know better. Since there are no real wild/native tigers in South Africa it doesn't result in any real misunderstandings or confusion. Further more, historically, a Tyger also reffered to a mythical creature and this might have been another factor in the confusing use of tyger/tijger/luiperd/etc. in historical times.

You can also check out my old blog post for some more info on how Tygerberg might have gotten its name as "Leopard-Mountain", though I have no doubt there were also plenty of Leopard on the hills in the old days, and not the tortoise variaty...

1 comment:

  1. I love your small mammal videos! It's such a joy to see these little guys happily going about their daily lives.

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