I am posting two posts tonight because I answered your questions in one and will be sharing about my day and asking you some more questions in this post. If you did not read the previous post first, please do so and then come back to this one.
Today we hit the jackpot! We got to see all sorts of mammals today! The first thing that we did this morning was to travel out to our research site to check our traps that we set yesterday. We were very anxious and hoping to find something. We will check our traps six times, two times a day for three days. Our researchers didn't expect us to catch more than ten animals in this three day period, however, we captured 8 today. This morning Caroline and I caught a deer mouse and a red backed vole. Another group caught another mouse and a third group caught another vole. This afternoon, Caroline and I didn't catch anything but one group caught a mouse and a vole and another group caught a chipmunk! We were very surprised to find a chipmunk in our trap because they are so much bigger than mice and voles. I have posted a picture of the chipmunk. It shows our researcher, Christina, holding it. She is holding it like this because if she didn't, it would try and bite her. One group hasn't caught anything yet so we are hoping they get something tomorrow!
After we took our mammals out of their traps, we had to do some research. We weighed the animal first. I have attached a picture of Christina doing this. She would then take a pair of scissors and cut off a small patch of fur on the back right hind quarter. Why do you think Christina would cut of some of its fur? We also checked to see if the animal was male or female and if it was female, we would look to see if it was pregnant. All but one of the females we caught today was pregnant. It is the very beginning of mating season so most of them have only been pregnant for about a week at the most. After we took all of our measurements, we recorded them and then it was time to release our mammal. When we released it, we put it in the maze boxes and timed how long it took to get out of our maze. I posted another close-up picture of our maze box. We did this because the rodents we are trapping right now were ones that survived the winter. We are putting them through the mazes because we want to see if they can problem solve and get out of the maze since they are older and have had more life experience because they were smart enough to survive the winter. Later on in the summer after the babies have been born, they are going to continue to trap the mammals and put them through the mazes. They are expecting that these younger mice that they catch in the summer will take longer to get out of the maze because they haven't lived as long and are not as smart as the older mice. When we put our vole into our maze, it took it 9 minutes to get out! It just stayed in our maze and hid in a corner because it liked it in our box. The mouse we captured this morning escaped our maze in 11 seconds!
After checking our traps, we went around collecting rabbit poo and collecting it in bags. Why do you think we did this? What do you think we can learn from collecting animal droppings?
In the afternoon we were split into three different groups and took hikes down different nature trails. We were looking for field signs of different animals. Field signs are clues that animals leave in nature to show us that they live in an area. For example, my group found coyote droppings, fox droppings, hare droppings, a beaver dam, porcupine tree damage. We also saw a red squirrel, bald eagle, a pheasant, and a toad out in the wild while were on our hike. One group even saw a beaver! These signs all show us that there are several different types of animals living in this area.
Tomorrow I'm going to talk to you about adaptation. Before I do this, I want you to discuss what you think the word, adaptation means. Why is it important for animals to adapt? Can you give me any examples of animals that have made adaptations to their environment? I am very interested in your answers to this last question. I will give you some examples tomorrow of this.
I hope you are having a great time and learning a lot because I am learning so much that I can't wait to share with you. I hope you are enjoying the weather in Iowa also because I hear it has been beautiful! Can't wait to hear from you!
Mrs. Quam :)