City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

December 3, 2016

December 3rd

Filed under: Brown or Norwegian rat, mile 0.5, picnic site 4 — canopus56 @ 4:39 pm

Mystery Hole

Noon. On November 15th, 2016, I again check the mystery hole near milepost 0.5. Ten paces past the milepost 0.5 sign on the south side of the road is five inch diameter hole with well-worn, smooth sides. It is the burrow home of some type of a mammal, but which one? The hole is too large for a snake or for a squirrel. The hole was also dug in damp consolidated clay, a material that squirrels do not favor. The burrow may be part of a larger underground network of tunnels. About 75 feet north of this mystery hole, there are three raised, disturbed spots in the ground that may be other closed off entrances. I do not want to reach down into the hole to seek further clues, but last month, I covered the top with leaves, and there has been no movement. Even Sophie, my border collie jogging companion did not get a scent hit off the hole (Nov. 14th). The burrow is empty. Consulting my guides, the best prospect for the hole’s maker is the Brown or Norwegian rat (Rattus norvegicus), a common urban pest. Today, December 3rd, the mystery hole is buried under the snow. Will it be reoccupied in the spring?

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on December 3rd, 1857, he tells of turning over a rock and discovering an winter ant colony with eggs.


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