13 April 2011

Rodents In The Ash

I didn't have time this past weekend to check the cameras, but here are a few rodents that where photographed in the burnt section at Tygerberg Nature Reserve, in Cape Town, during the previous week.

The ground was full of interesting patterns after the burn

First up were the Porcupines. Not the best photograph, but you can see the youngster tagging along. These guys frequented the rocky outcrop where the camera was placed.

Porcupine (Ystervark - Hystrix africaeaustralis) on the rocks

The camera was fairly deep into the burnt area. I'm not expecting much smaller animals to stick around while there is nothing to eat and no shelter close by. So why are these Porcupines here? Well, the fire has exposed the roots and (especially) bulbs of many plants and it forms a major part of their died. Thus the fire has actually, in some sense, made life easier for the Porcupines. The rocky outcrop had many small bulbs growing between the rocks and the animals are surely here to collect them.

A tasty treat for a Porcupine

I also noticed that some old animal bones where dropped close by. Porcupines are known to nibble on old bones to increase their calcium intake. (The bones weren't there the previous week when I placed the camera.)

Some bones exposed by the burn

Now, I know I've been posting a lot of mice pictures lately, but this guy was just so cute I couldn't resist.

Four-Striped Grass Mouse (Streepmuis - Rhabdomys pumilio) peeking over the edge

With the vegetation gone his hole isn't as safe as it used to be and he was always on the lookout.

Is the coast clear?

This is at the same spot at where I photographed the Caracal and Small-Spotted Genet (in an earlier post).

Flying mouse? Can it be... SuperMouse? (I'm sorry for the lame joke.)

He seems to be doing well and survived the burn, Caracal (twice) and the Genet, not to mention the birds of prey. He knows to dash for cover when danger approaches.

As usual the hole is shared. The lodging agreement seems to work well, with one species being active during the day and the other mostly during the night.

Our old friend the Vlei Rat (Vleirot - Otomys irroratus) graced us with his presence 

These images where taken close to the border of the burn, and the animals can easily make a run to the unburnt vegetation for some food, and still have a home close by to return to.

I just realised that I haven't upload the picture below yet. Its a Vlei Rat I photographed a while back. Its a good shot and it adds some green to this post, which has been dominated by greys and browns up to this point...

Another Vlei Rat at Tygeberg Nature Reserve in the Western Cape

The Cuddeback (the trail camera that took this photograph) doesn't usually capture rodents, so this was a bit of a welcome surprise.


  1. I'm quite impressed by your small rodent photographs. My cameras don't seem to want to focus in close enough to let me get decent shots of animals that size.

  2. Don't worry about posting mice/rat photos! They're hard to get photos of, and always a treat to see!

  3. Most interesting. Good to know the little guys survied the fire.

  4. I like rodent pics too and i didn,t know porcupines ate barbecued bulbs......

  5. got to your site researching Otomys irroratus. i live in the eastern cape and am making use of iNaturalist to keep record of all the critters i manage to photograph. most of them in my garden which i have left wild - see my vlei rat here :)