Friday, May 21, 2010

Vole upstages President Obama's Rose Garden Press Conference

The headlines read: "Rodent Scurries Past Obama in the Rose Garden".

The vole has been described as a gate crasher and upstager, because the critter has definitely caught our collective attention.  That may be true, but in actuality, maybe it was President Obama and the Press Corps that was disturbing the rodent.  It was scurrying back and forth making its way from one safe area (the cover of bushes) to the other past the podium and eyes of hundreds of upright potential predators (the press).

Everyone has debated the species identity of the critter as a rat, mouse, or mole.  It was in fact a vole.  I dare say it was a meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus.  I say that because of it size, length, of tail, geographic location, and general appearance (assuming I’m seeing a good quality picture).  I wonder what my other Microtus researcher friends would conclude?

Unlike rats, voles are much smaller in size.  Unlike mice (and rats), voles have very stout bodies with short tails and ears.  And the names rhyme moles and voles are not in the same order of mammals.  Moles are insectivores (predators).  Though small in size and with short tails, the head, legs and running gait of moles is entirely different than that of voles. And it was a rather healthy and chubby vole, perhaps a pregnant female? If so, there will be more scurrying voles in the Rose Garden very soon.

Pictures and link to full article about the event from Huffington Post.

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