Jan 28 2009
This morning I looked out the back window to see how the bird feeders were doing and found a network in the snow.
What’s this? I went out to investigate.
All the lines originated from a hole under the sidewalk and grew outward like a tree toward the bird feeder. Subnivean mouse trails!
Subnivean means “under the snow.” The mouse came out last night and tunneled to the feeders. Under the snow he stayed warm and relatively safe from predators while he munched down on fallen seed. Until today I didn’t even know he lived there because his trails in powdery snow aren’t as visible, but this morning the ice and rain made his tunnel roof transparent. Way cool!
Many animals live under the snow all winter. If you click on the photo, you’ll see a diagram of subnivean life in the arctic. Here in Pittsburgh we don’t have snow cover all winter so the activity is intermittent.
Want to hear more? Here’s an audio story from New Hampshire Public Radio.
(photo by Kate St. John, using my cell phone which caused that pink tinge.)