Temperature: 40s F
Today was a very busy day! We woke up this morning and drove over to where Christina and Chris live.
Christina and Chris's House
It was an important morning for us because we needed to prepare the traps for the afternoon when we would place them in the field. The traps we use are called Longworth Traps and they are made in England. The Scientists have never trapped this early in the season. Due to the fact that they are made out of metal, it was necessary for us to make insulating "jackets." Since the small mammals (mice and voles) we are hoping to trap have very little body fat, we need to make sure they are able to stay warm overnight until we can release them in the morning. Remember this is human trapping (catch and release) ... not trapping for furs! We spent a few hours cutting styrofoam and covering the traps... we were able to cover 65 of them,but not all 100.
Alison cuts styrofoam for the trapsOnce the traps were covered, we labeled them with a letter (A-D) and a number (1-25). These will be important later on when we are placing them in the field. Then they were loaded up for transport to the field site and we had a quick picnic lunch before heading off.
Traps ready to go!When we reached the site of the trap placement, we had to hike a bit down a path with our boxes of traps, 2 bags of hay, birdseed and several other tools. It was time to stuff the traps and prepare them for any of the little visitors we might get. In order to prepare a trap properly you need to have a couple necessities: Nesting materials and FOOD! In each trap we put in a baseball sized amount of hay, a little birdseed and a small slice of apple. This will provide a warm place for the animal to stay over night as well as some food to keep up their calories in this cold weather. Once the traps were prepared, we set them and got ready to place them in the field. Wouldn't you find them cozy?
Trap "set" The view looking inside the trap
We went out in teams of two and three to set 4 lines of 25 traps. Each line was either A,B,C, or D. The traps were labeled 1-25. Each of the lines were about 30 meters apart and each trap was then set 5 meters apart. Most traps had the styrofoam jackets on them but the bare ones we had to be extra careful placing... we needed to find natural materials like leaves, pine needles and dirt to try and make them insulated.
When finding a good place to place the trap, we were instructed to "think like a mouse". Mice like to run along areas that are protected on a side, for example along sides of rocks or fallen trees. They also lake places that have a lot of covering in the form of tree branches or leaves. These are the types of places we looked for when we set our traps. This was difficult work because the terrain we were hiking over was pretty rough, lots of big boulders and what seemed like millions of trees. It was very difficult to navigate carrying huge boxes of traps.
The Terrain Trap PlacementAfter setting the traps we were pretty exhausted. We headed into a nearby town called Liverpool to get some groceries and then went back to the accommodations for dinner. Tomorrow we will go out and check the traps in the morning. We will also check them in the afternoon. It is important that we check them twice a day so that the animals are not stressed too much and so that they can be free again to go home. We are hoping to find at least a few mammals. I asked Chris how many we should anticipate finding tomorrow and he said that usually the first night of the first trapping session yields only 5 or so. This is because they traps are now foreign in the environment and it might take a day or so for the mice and voles to be adventurous enough to go near them. We'll see! The traps will be out for 3 days so we will bring them in on Friday and analyze the data at that time. Alright this is all for now, talk to you soon :)
? What is the difference between mice and voles?? Do any of you know?