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Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Posted by mctavish6 (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 9, 12 at 17:35

I think I'm becoming schizophrenic. There's been all this talk of voles which I'm finding so interesting. There's been talk of voles before and I was mildly interested but since I didn't think I had any, it was just curiosity.

In the fall I noticed all these holes in the garden out in the woods. I've created the beds with garden refuse from the year before along with soil, fir needles etc. (Where the plant actually is, there's a good soil mix). Anyway the more I saw these holes and tried to fill them in, the more I had a nagging doubt. Could I have voles? No. I had two killer cats and a constant supply of critters on the balcony to prove it. It must be mice. It could also be shrews. It was NOT voles. Talk about denial. I don't know if there's plant damage and wont know until spring but I've never had any before.

I've read the recent posts with increasing interest. I thought - "no" the holes I have don't look like that. I looked up a picture of a vole on the internet. The picture of the single vole did look like bodies I had found, short tail, chubby body. I must have them. I found a chart comparing voles, mice, rats, shrews etc (picture attached). That vole looked too big compared to mice and I know what mice look like so I was sure I didn't have them. I'd created the right environment for them acording to the articles. Maybe I do have them. I found an article that said they create mound like tunnels and you can identify them from that. No mound like tunnels so no, I don't have them. I read that if the hole is 2 inches they are squirrels, chipmunks, rats or moles. The voles hole is 1 inch in diameter. I thought that the holes I've seen are about one inch. Yes, I do have them. I finally decided to go see if I could find any bodies recently pushed off the balcony. I couldn't find any. I went to look for the dime sized holes that could confirm that I had voles. At that point I thought that between the voles and tree roots I wouldn't know WHAT would kill my plants first. I decided to measure the holes in the woods. They are 3 inches across, all of them. Now it looks like it belongs to a ground squirrel or a rat. I'm not going to look right now if ground squirrels or rats eat hostas. I don't think I feel strong enough to find out. One good thing is that I most definitely don't have armadillos.

"12 � 36 inches in diameter, thoroughly plowed three inches deep, in flowerbed: armadillo"

Have a good day folks. Myrle


6a00e54f9367fb88340148c6853d03970c-800wi


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

notice the tail length.. seems to differentiate mice.. from the rest ...

i had whjat i thought was thousands of chipmunks ... the only damage was chewing thru irrigation lines for water ... trapped about 4 .. and they were gone.. hyperactive little bat-turds ... lol ... rat trap with peanut butter over a known hole .... with black pot on top ...

ken


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Myrle, now you're talking!!!
How about let's go have a beer on the deck and wait for your ferocious feline to drag up another body?

What I now realize my dachshund girl killed was the scallopy mole, the bottom guy. I want to be there when you encounter a long tailed woodland jumping mouse. How high can you jump, Myrle?

I'm going to read your dissertation to my DH. Great literature.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Ground squirrels, or chipmunks, don't eat hostas. They just make lots of obnoxious tunnels, which probably interfere with hosta root growth.

Deanna


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Sometimes,Myrle,you can't tell if you have voles. A lot of the time,even this year,I have found little holes around my plants,but as this year progressed,the eyes continue to come up,right where I thought there were voles. If they had been voles the hosta would have been gone. You probably remember the time a couple years ago when I thumped a vole,who was walking right near me. One of my newly emerged hostas had just been attacked,and I was a little ticked,so when I saw it,I just happened to have my walking stick with me,and I took it out on the vole. Most of the time,I never see a vole,because they seem to feed at night. Good luck with your gardens this year,and hang in there! Phil


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Gardenfanatic-A few years ago I was visiting the beautiful gardens call Blue Spring, on a bluff overlooking the White River below Beaver Lake. It was spring and they were planting large drifts of annuals around the main spring.

Right before my eyes one of the newly planted simply zipped into the soil, leaving a small hole. I could not believe what I had just seen. I laughed out loud, which drew the attention of those around me. It reminded me of the cartoons of Bugs Bunny eating Elmer Fudds carrots.

My curiosity totally peaked, and after trying to convince people of what I had just seen I'd hunkered down with the intent to be able to say "see-it just happened again." I was settled in to hunker for hours if I had to -stubborn cuss that I am! (In reality, I am one of the most patient observers of nature around and am know to sit motionless watching deer walking right up to me)

Instead, after just about the right time for a critter to eat the missing plant, a ground squirrel popped its head out of the hole. I could almost envision it licking its lips; yummy! I have no doubt that ground squirrel had eaten the plant. What amazed my was how it was eaten from under the ground, not lopped off like a rabbit would.

ZIP - it was gone. It is a pretty safe way for a ground squirrel to eat in the middle of the day, in a land where Red-Tailed and Cooper Hawks are everywhere.

And in answer to any doubters questions: "No, I'd had nothing to drink." Nor have I had anything before writing this (lol). But after several hours hunkering down in the high elevations of the Arkansas mountains under the hot sun a cold beer and mexican dinner in Eureka Springs sure served its purpose afterwards.

Myrle, thanks for the posting of the sketches of the critters. I have just recently posted on another "vole" posting describing the shrews I have seen and your sketches confirm my observations. Thanks.

Les


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Pardon my ignorance here, but I am puzzled by the term "ground squirrel" and wonder if--in Gardenfanatic's post it seems to imply that term is an alternate name for "chipmunk?"

So, if I've seen chipmunks, I've also seen ground squirrels?
Or are they two different critters? As far as I know, we do not have either ground squirrels OR chipmunks this far south.

But we do have armadillos, and they are awesome. Not a friendly one among the lot.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I will mention the available real estate you have to my chipmunks, moccasinlanding! ;) I will even offer to pack for them. What do armadillos eat? Maybe we could strike a deal here-haha. My problem with chipmunks and other rodents is that the galloping gardeners are determined to rid the yard of them and the ensuing onslaught creates innocent victims: hosta, azaleas, hydrangeas, fothergilla, kalmia, sweet woodruff, etc. So sad/maddening. Can't fence off the entire yard from the pups, so I just spend a fortune replacing and hoping the pups calm down as they age-they are 6 and 5 now and so far, no change.

I am also unsure of what a ground squirrel is.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I'm pretty sure ground squirrels and chipmunks are not the same. Here, ground squirrels are called gophers and they are a nuisance.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

as top the title.. that is why i always snap a picture .. the beauty of the digital age ...

ken

ps: whether i actually ever download them from the camera and do anything with them.. is another issue... lol ..


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

In my parts, gophers and ground squirrels are the same thing. They dig tunnels through your yard & garden. My brother and I used to tie slip-knots on fishing poles and snare them when they popped out of their holes. 7-8 inches long when lifeless and stretched out on the sidewalk. My dad paid $1 per...but had to produce the body to get the money.

Chipmunks look a lot like gophers but don't tunnel, are a little cuter. The pattern in chipmunk fur is similar to a gopher, but a little more defined and vibrant. Smarter than gophers.
Gayle


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Per Wikipedia ground squirrels = Chipmunke in the North. My Chipmunks dig deep burrows, through hosta roots or not, wherever they like it. They do not eat mouse poison pellets, and can not be tricked to dig underneath a spike type mole trap. Their burrows must be bottomless, I could not fill one up with a garden hose, mystery. Perhaps I found a very experienced and smart one?
Bernd


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Hmmmm, well, I Googled "gopher" and found some football teams, but discarded those hits and looked at the images of the little critters.

To be honest, I think the gopher standing up in front of his burrow looks an awful lot like a "prairie dog" and a bit like a slightly larger, longer-tailed chipmunk. They all look like rodents, but I prefer the cuteness of the chipmunks. Now don't jump on that too quickly, I think it is because of Alvin and the Chipmunks being glorified on film. First one I ever saw was about 7 years ago when I first visited DHubby's home in MA. Since then, I've noticed they devoured an ancient patch of undulata albo-marginata, making the ground all around it look like swiss cheese. I'm very glad they do not live in the south, or this far south at least.

Maybe if the climate keeps changing, getting warmer up there in your zones, they will all move further north, like to the North Pole, and leave the entire country for Canada.

It also seems to me that the term "gopher" has a regional difference, like a generic term for a ground burrowing critter/pest, ground squirrel or not, chipmunk or not, or, like here, I remember my mama calling the ground rats "gophers."

Since this topic began, I've come to understand and respect the function of shrews, had no appreciation for them except that Shakespeare's play immortalized the effort it took to tame a female shrew. I'll also quit worrying about the raised mole hills since they don't eat my plant roots but keep my dachshund girl entertained--the only doxie I know who at six years old has never (knock on wood) dug a hole.
The day I forgot to turn off the water hose and a mole came gasping for breath jumping into the air from his tunnel, she caught that one, killed it with great dispatch, and has waited for another one to show up like that too.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I have always known of the pocket gopher as a ground spuirrel. The only way they resemble a chipmonk is that they have white lines on their backs. I don't remember how many - I think two varieties exist each with a different band count. That should attract hostaholics! But the one I am most familiar with has 3 types of bands; solid black, solid white, and dashed white, that run down their backs from front to rear.

In the "Hole Vole" posts there is a good link on such critters as these. Yes, a gopher does look like a prairie dog but is much smaller; longer than chipmonk but slimmer. I guess ground squirrel is a regionally common name. The first I'd heard of regular saquirrels being called "tree rats" was when I lived in Arkansas, but I think I heard it from an Alaska native who calls the Bald Eagle a fish buzzard.

I won't say never, but I haven't heard of a chipmonk having the local name of ground squirrel, and I have spent time living or working in many states from the midwest and midsout east. I will have to read Wikepedia. It didn't mention gopher at all; just ground squirrel=chipmonk?

I can see a person who has only seen flashing glimpses of chipmonks and gophers confusing the two, but the two are quite distinctive from each other. The pocket gopher, like a chipmonk (and hampsters) has large expandible cheek pockets for collecting food. In the source I read a pocket gopher can actually turn its cheeks inside-out when emptying them. hmmmm-! I'll take two large french fries, please! To go!

Les


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

well.. if nothing else.. we are getting a gardening lesson on the failure of common names ...

google until you find the latin name.. of the actual pest.. and then go from there ...

in the perennial forum.. we get a slew of these problems.. when e.g. someone wants to know about butterfly bush.. aka butterfly weed .. aka butterfly shrub .... butterfly this.. butterfly that .... etc ... we cant even have a discussion.. until we ID what they want to talk about ....

here you go:
Eastern chipmunk Latin Name: Tamias striatus

Thomomys talpoides is the Latin name for the northern pocket gopher

and the link below lists 2 chippies that arent even related by the first latin name to the one above.. must be western chipmonk .. whats that all about ...

its raining.. i am bored.. can you tell??

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I know we have a few chipmunks but not many. They are apparently easier prey for the cats than the squirrels. I like the chipmunks and squirrels, even the ones that STILL living in the space between the ceiling and roof of the front porch. They swear and throw nuts at us when we are sitting in the garden but I still think they are cute. There are lots of marmots, a real plague for some neighbors who trap them. I'm wondering if they are the same as the Woodchucks below. They are about the size of a cat and come in different colors. I see them at the edges of the fields and also think they are cute.

A few more pictures to confuse the matter further;

This gopher looks just like what I though voles looked like?

gopher

An interesting look at what's under the ground.

drk005283

This helps a little. The pocket gopher does look very similar to the vole but the size (according to this chart) is much larger.

figure_2_isu_mole_control


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Thanks for the link, Ken. And something that I discovered at that link:

quoting here:
How much impact does birding have on the economy of the United States? Birders contribute some $32 Billion dollars in retail sales annually. This represents the amount of money spent on field guides, binoculars, bird food, houses, boats, transportation, guide costs and other direct birding expenses.

Now for the really big news. That $32 billion dollars generated $85 billion in economic benefits and created 863,406 jobs.

And I just registered my property as a Backyard Habitat, Certified by NWF. I'm very pleased.


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Did not see ,,,

Myrle, did not see your post when I hit SEND. This is becoming a most educational thread. Thanks for the comparasons.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Leave those armadillos alone! They carry leprosy and some other kind of horrible parasite! They aren't cute. They are pests. They eat roots and grubs and can destroy a St. Augustine lawn overnight. They dig profusely.

Since hosta and armadillos seldom habit the same places, I don't know if they eat hosta.

They are native to South America and have no natural predators here, so they are difficult to control and are spreading north rapidly. All you guys will get your opportunity to meet those nasty little stupid creatures in due time. They rank right up there with fire ants, zebra mussels and those wierd flying fish on the Mississippi.

bkay


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I'm plagued with chipmunks but luckily have never had them eat or burrow around any of the hostas. Chipmunks are actually a specie of ground squirrel which is only a common name as is "chipmunk". Above it was mentioned that two different animals appear to be related but have different genus names and could they be related. Look at hostas. They are lilies but the genus name hosta is different than the genus name Lillium, Crinum,Hemerocallus yet they are all related to each other.

Scott


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Myrle-you found my ground squirrel! It'sjust as I described it.
Ken, I use only the taxonomic names for my African Cichlidae, but you have to ID the animal before using the right one. The pic is not how my on-line source described the pocket gopher. It actually showed a pic of the lined ground squirrel. I am going to look up the taxonomic family for ground squirrels and gophers.

Of all the critters spoken of here, the shrew is the only one not a rodent. They have a really evil looking set of teeth, and if opposum weren't marsupial you would see a close appearance between the head and teeth between shrews and possums.

Having a black walnut shading one of my hosta beds I experience a heavy presence of red and grey squirrels. Myrle, they are rather intelligent cusses. When walnuts are on the tree they start mewing like a cat and jumping from branch to branch-which attracts my hunting dog. Then when she is under the tree looking up they pick walnuts off of the tree and drop them, trying to hit her. This is all kind of fun to watch, but its pretty hard on young or small hostas, which my dog doesn't notice since she is looking up. Small hosta also get bombed by off target walnuts.

As a child I used to feed nuts to chipmonks up in northern Wisconsin and UP Michigan. Fortunately none had bitten me and hundreds have eaten out of the palm of my hand. If anyone of you is so inclined to want to do that (NOT RECOMMENDED), lay the peanut in your palm, where they take it gently. If you hold the nut with your fingers you have a greater risk of getting bitten. Don't make things too attractive to them - they will get under your house and eventually destroy any insulation stapled to your floors, which they use as runways. Eventually they drop so many nut shells the weight causes the insulation to tear free. It also seems they have an area between the joists they use as a toilet so the wet insulation gets rather heavy.

I think this is quite an appropriate thread in a hosta forum, ken. Not all of us live where these critters don't exist and cause problems. I'll repeat what was said earlier-identify your problem before taking incorrect measures.

And an absolute "I AGREE" with the comments about armidillo. A female with young will make a lawn look like it never existed overnight. I'd never seen them in Arkansas until the late 1980's. Now they are more commonly seen than possums, and a lot dumber. Now the old joke about possums crossing the road can be changed. They do it to prove to the armidillo that it can be done.

Again, I don't like using poisons on digging animals. Poisons are so non-selective. It isn't that a pet cat or dop will eat the poison - directly. But they might eat a poisoned critter as can a hawk or eagle, since all of the raptors eat carrion. That is why most poison baits warn about use where pets are present.

Long post. Sorry - Les


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Hmmm...around here the terms ground squirrel and chipmunk are interchangeable, but it looks like they're 2 different critters. Maybe folks around here are referring to rodent #4, which does look pretty similar to a chipmunk.

Ever since the people across the street moved in with their 3 free roaming cats, the chipmunks are few and far between in my yard as they used to be. The downside - the cats think my garden is their litter box. Grrrrr.....

Deanna


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I think my chances of running across an armadillo here are near impossible. By the time evolution adapts them to Canada I'll be long gone. On the other hand we have deer, moose, bears, cougars and of course coyotes. The dog keeps most things away from the gardens including deer. The cats keep the majority of critters under control. I've felt sorry for the shrews they catch because they look so small and blind. I didn't realize they were also mean. Moccasinlanding's birds sound charming. I have lots of birds but don't feed them because I want my birds to be wise to the cats. I read an article in the past about threats to birds. Humans are a far bigger threat to birds than cats. Windows are number one. My cats catch a few birds but not that many compared to the mice and other critters they hunt. I'd never use poison of any kind because of them. That includes the kind for slugs. Even if you don't have cats or dogs, toads and frog probably would be affected by poisons. I'm very attached to my frogs and have named some of them. Meanwhile, no recent carcasses have been brought to the door. Whenever I let her out I use to tell Elsa who is overweight and dieting to run around the house a few times. Now I tell her to go catch a vole. I'll have to wait and see.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Ignorance is bliss, as always, but I wanted to KNOW. So I looked up the geographic range of voles.

Turns out there is a pine vole which ranges from New Hampshire all the way to south Georgia, and that is right next door so to speak. Therefore I might just run across those little critters in the back yard.

I became uncomfortable about what was digging the holes around several plants, specifically the Hosta 'Winter Snow' which was one of three in the ground. When I looked today, I filled in the about 3/4 inch diameter hole that was beside the greening dormant eyes of the plant. It was not there when I checked for the pips last week.

Well, maybe they can leave the POTS alone. So far the only things I've found digging in my containers are the squirrels. They prefer the potted soil to digging in the garden. More than likely, it is not as likely to sprout from too much moisture.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Picture #3 is what we Minnesotans call a chipmunk. And let me tell you, they do destroy hosta. I don't know if they eat them, per se, but I have watched as they chewed the stem through right at ground level, causing my montana Aureomarginata leaves to hit the dirt. They are so cute, however, that I find it hard to hate them. A funny story... years ago my tomatoes were taking such a hit from the chipmunks, I purchased some fox urine to deter them. I came out the next morning and the chipmunk was chewing on the bottle from which the fox urine was seeping. So much for the chipmunk-fox rivalry.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Myrle - I thought ELSA was a lion?
Les


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Les, in her opinion she is! There is a picture of her and Bo (black and white) in the Spring Fix thread. Myrle


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

In mctavish's post above, #2 looks a lot like the gopher around here. Pretty soon, it will be mating season and they will be preoccupied - lots of splatted bodies on the road.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I dug this one out of the archives. A lot of people confuse the ground squirrel with chipmunk, as you can see. I have had no problems with chipmunks destroying my hostas when I lived in Arkansas. But the banded ground squirrel are tunnelers that eat roots and even will pull whole plants into the ground from below to devour them. Reminds me of Elmer Fudd patrolling his carrot patch watching for the wascolly wabbit while Buggs Bunny is pulling down the carrots right before Elmers eyes.

Les


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

When I was stationed in San Diego I observed both Ground Squirrels and Pocket Gophers quite closely. Our yard backed up to an empty field behind a church and the place was overrun with both types of critters.

When I was 10 I spent the summer in Canada with my grandparents and observed Chipmunks even more closely as my grandfather had them trained to climb into his shirt pocket to get sunflower seeds. they would drag stuff off my paper plate while I was eating at the picnic table.

Pocket gophers are different from ground squirrels and munks. The ground squirrel bears a resemblance to the munk only in that it has stripes on its back but the two species are not the same color and the GS gets quite a bit larger than the munk. I also observed that the ground squirrels would attack birds that strayed too close to their tunnel entrances and try to drag then into their burrows. The implication to me is that they are not averse to adding a little fresh protein to their diets. This observation also answered the question of why there seemed to be an abnormal number of 1 legged or footed birds around.

The pocket gophers were an absolute menace to our vegetable garden and I watched one day while one of them tried to pull a young pumpkin vine into its burrow. Being a southeastern boy I tried to flood them out and once ran the hole full blast into a hole by the patio. It ran for over an hour and water never surfaced out of any of the other holes. I gave up on that technique. A combination of Mole traps and a pellet gun kept the population down a little but there were too many gopher mujahideen who came from the church yard to continue the battle for our garden. The fighting never stopped and I'm sure continued when the new tenants took possession of the back yard and garden plot.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I have a big male cat with very sharp claws. He keeps the birds out of my berries and the rodents out of the garden.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

I used to think we didn't have voles either, until a few plants started yellowing and falling over, revealing no roots left. There are several different types of voles, and they cover pretty much all of North America, I think. Here is a map of their range

Here is a link that might be useful: voles in North America


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

Troutwind, that was a great bit of information and personal reflection. Your grandpa and mine were similar souls, and well beloved.

Dray, I had a cat who was an excellent rodent catcher. Not just a mouser, but could catch rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, chipmunks, no telling what else, plus birds. It was the birds which I regretted that she caught, but we gave her to our daughter to keep mice under control for them.

Don't think we have ground squirrels here in south Alabama, nor for sure do we have chipmunks. Neither do we have issues with other forest critters in our city areas--just raccoons, possums, snakes, alligators (by the river), squirrels and rats. If things like deer, coyote, turkey, fishercats, and such were around, somebody would shoot em.
No doubt about that! :)

But this thread is one I think should stay nearby for easy retrieval when someone has issues with critters. Thanks for collecting the information, McTavish.


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RE: Why did I dispose of the bodies?

The best thread I've read here in many years. Muchos Danke!

hh


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