Hello! My name is Mrs. Clark. Please join me as I travel to study the mammals of Nova Scotia!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Data Collection

Once a trap is found in the grid with the door closed I carried it back to a central location to collect data. I recorded the trap ID (Row letter and number), next I place the entire trap inside a large clear plastic bag. I made sure to pull up my sleeve(that way the rodent doesn't use my sleeve as a tunnel to escape) and held the plastic bag closed at the top. Next, I took apart the nesting chamber from the tunnel and removed the nesting material from inside until the rodent came out. I then cornered the rodent and held it there to remove the trap and hay to leave just the rodent alone in the bag.
I identified the rodent type, next scruffed the animal and took it out of the bag to determine the gender and reproductive status(male ready to breed, female pregnant or non) and its health. Next, the researcher verified the gender and marked the animal as “Caught” by clipping some guard hairs off its thigh leaving behind a different colored hair.
That way we know if it gets caught again. Next I placed the rodent back into the bag and it was weighed.
I took the rodents in a plastic bag and the same trap was reset and with a partner the rodent and a maze was taken back to the marked site the trap was from on the grid. The rodent was placed in the maze and timed for how long it took to get out, which released it back into the wild. If the rodent took longer than 10 minutes we took the lid off the maze and let it go. What is the purpose of the maze?

Mammals today: 2 red squirrels, 3 white tail deer, 1 muskrat, 3 raccoon, 3 beaver, 2 porcupine, 2 mice and 5 voles. Weather was 40 today but windy.
Also I will be skyping with many of you Friday April 1st What are you still wondering about what I am doing here?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Word of the Day

So I set my traps Tuesday afternoon “thinking like a mouse” and did not have to worry about putting it by food because we put grain inside the traps but more importantly was thinking about where a mouse/vole/shrew/squirrel might want to run, hide or find a mate. From a comment posted by my veterinary sister lets all learn the Word of the Day: Thigmotactic- rodents are, and because of this traps should be placed where they would be running along things they are touching(feet,whiskers). Its a security feeling to them. Example if you dead end a trap at the end of a log, they will go right into it.

I put some along rocks where they might run, under a fallen log or also on top of a log it might run along, near holes or tunnels and under lots of thick brush. I did well and my traps caught the most today in the grid! Check my next post for what was inside.

What was Inside?

Mammal trapping was like opening presents at Christmas today.Let’s talk about the different species while we show off what we caught today:
Mice-have huge eyes, and big mickey mouse ears and long tails, they love to climb up fallen logs or rocks and are nocturnal(come out at night). They are omnivores. We caught 2 deer mice today. Here is one I got to handle and take data on.
Voles-have short stubby tails, small ears and small eyes so they come out only during the day they look to always be under brush and cover to avoid predators rather then run, because they cannot hear or see them as good as mice since their eyes and ears are small and herbivores and are diurnal(active during the day). We caught 4 red backed voles today.
Shrews-they are smaller and also have short stubby tail, small ears but bigger eyes. They however are insectivores with a diet where they must eat almost constantly and will starve in 3 hours without bugs to eat. So our traps have a shrew hole about the size of a dime from which they can escape. We had 1 shrew today(How come I don’t have a picture?)
Red Squirrels-larger size, long fluffy tail, big eyes, sharp claws for climbing will be both up trees and on forest floor, they are diurnal herbivores. We saw 2 today. In a field transect we found 5 porcupine, 3 beaver, 15 snowshoe hare, 1 deer, 10 coyote, 3 raccoon, 1 skeleton of deer mouse. The temp was 43.

We also learned that raccoons are a pest to our research site as they disassembled 4 traps, and shredded the Styrofoam jackets trying to get the seed inside.
What do you think we did with the rodents we caught in the traps? What data was collected?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Think Like a Mouse

Today I was in class today too! We got lots of training on how to set and prepare the small rodent traps. We worked together to first make sure each of the 100 traps had a Styrofoam jacket. Why did the trap need a jacket? The night time temperatures are still freezing so this keeps the mouse, shrew or vole, chipmunk, would freeze in the cold metal trap without it. 40 needed repairs or brand new ones made. You can see me doing this in a picture.
Then we had to learn how to put the two pieces together into a banana shape with a tunnel side and a nest side. Why do you think the ends had to be set higher?
We had to fill the nest end with hay and seeds to bait the rodents in and then open the trap door and attach the tunnel.
This is a very time consuming task and thus a reason why the group of volunteers help is so important.Also today mammals seen were red fox, 2 porcupine, 3 snowshoe hare. Weather was a high of 43. Animal science class add that to the chart.
Each of the 100 trap were labeled a-b-c-d-e and 1-10 a and b. This created a checkerboard grid we then placed in the East Port Medway Research Site. I set 20 traps in row D, ten yards apart and orange tape marked the site of each of my traps. While doing this we all had to think like a mouse to set the traps. If you were a mouse running in the forest where should I have put the trap to catch you?

Shorehike summary

Awesome job posting comments on the blog. Mrs. Morstad’s post with Mr. Jensen’s 8th graders correctly identified the scat which was coyote scat. The items in the picture from my 7 mile shore hike from Broad Cove to Petite Reverie(Look it up on Google maps if you have time since I walked right by Green Bay, Nova Scotia that is. See in my picture how rocky the shore is?) Lobster claw, 2 crab exoskeletons, seaweed which kelp is common, the round white object is a sea urchin skeleton, a snail shell and other small sea shells, he clam like shells are from mussels, there are some crab legs left behind from a seagull or raccoon dinner, and sand and rocks. Click on any of the pictures on my blog to make them bigger for a closer look.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coastal Hike

I just returned from a 7 mile hike! During the walk we looked for things called indirect methods of mammal surveying. This means finding signs of mammals using a habitat but not actually visually seeing them. So for your first test...look at the picture I have posted with Lycos the dog sniffing it.He is trained to find the poop and them let us identify it. Also look at the kind of rocks were were walking on.

The scat Lycos is sniffing is from an animal that deposits it high off the ground so the wind can spread its scent to claim territory. Post any answers. I also found porcupine scat, porcupine trails, and tracks and a dead seagull skeleton. For non-mammals there is a collection of sea shore items. See anything you recognize?
So for totals on 3-28-11 are 1 red squirrel, 1 snowshoe hare, 1 deer, 5 coyote, 2 porcupine, and 2 raccoon temperature today was 36.

Day one completed

The group of 9 is all together we learned yesterday about all the safety guidelines and went over the schedule. Looks like Friday this week and next week will be the best skype days with some time early this week too. So ag room keep the skpe online whenever possible.
On the drive here Nova scotia looks a lot like northern WI! Lots of white pine and spruce trees with some decidious trees mixed in. The only mammal I have seen so far is our researchers half husky/german shepard dog named Lycos! He is super friendly you would all want me to bring him into the class every day. I will report back with our first field research from the coast this afternoon!
On a walk this morning we saw 1 red squirrel, 1 snowshoe hare and white tail deer tracks. Please add that to the orange chart on the wall for mammal species seen per day. It had nothing for yesterday.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I have arrived in Nova Scotia!!! I landed at Halifax International Airport which is a big city with skyscrapers but it is also a port city on the Atlantic ocean. This what I could have taken a picture of from the plane, but I did not have my camera out. It is of Halifax and the historic citadel.
Nova Scotia is the oldest part of North American continent. Located in extreme NE what US state is the closest to me again?
Nova Scotia is a peninsula not an island. Remember from social studies what that means. Once I was outside of the city I saw massive dikes. What are they and why does Nova Scotia have them?
The dikes are man made walls of soil to hold back the Atlantic ocean because some parts of Nova Scotia is below sea level. With the dikes in place there is valuable farmland. Nova Scotia is known for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries, Christmas trees, and apples. I thought the lobster ad in the hotel room was fitting.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Going International

Hey Everyone..I will be starting my international travels to Nova Scotia Saturday and our team will meet face to face and begin learning more about how to contribute to the research Sunday. Remember I will then be 2 hours ahead of you. Look it up on a map if you forgot your Canadian geography....hint I am heading east.
Check in for more info and finally I can post pictures of what I am seeing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Helpful Websites for Teachers

Hey Teachers following me on my trip to Nova Scotia check out these websites for some ready to use worksheets, and some more detailed lesson plans for elementary through middle school and high school ages. Hope this helps.
Elementary worksheet site http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/education/NREC/kidscorner/ And the lesson plan site is http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/Education/NREC/lessons/

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Fever

The weather in Wisconsin seems to be similar to where I am headed. I am wondering if the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Michigan both affect the spring weather the same way. The Great Lakes act like a heater in the summer keeping lake cities warmer and serve as an air condtioner in the summer. Some warmer weather in NE Wisconsin even rain is making the snow melt. Anyone know what the weather condtions are like in Nova Scotia right now?

Go to this site and check out the current conditions for Halifax Canada: http://www.blogger.com/www.wunderground.com