Friday, July 18, 2008

Eastern Mole

Scalopus aquaticus

Description: Moles have soft, silky, dense fur that lies equally well when brushed either forward or backward, an adaptation to facilitate movement in either direction in the underground burrow. The short front limbs possess feet that are greatly enlarged for digging. The forefeet are at least as broad as they are long, and the palms face outward. The claws on the forefeet are broad and flat, while those of the hind feet are relatively short and weak. The tiny, degenerate eyes are concealed in the fur and are covered by fused eyelids. External ears are absent. Eastern moles have grayish-brown fur that is frequently stained brownish or yellowish by secretions of oil glands on the head, chin, wrist, and belly. The face, feet, and tail are whitish or pinkish. The tail is short and sparsely haired. The nostrils open upward at the end of the long, pointed, and naked nose.

Range: The eastern mole occurs in suitable habitat throughout much of the eastern United States. It ranges from southern Ontario, southeastern Wyoming, Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts south to southern Florida, the Gulf Coast, and West to western Texas and northern Mexico. There are several in the soil outside Charlie's bedroom from which this particular specimen was dug out by Buckley.

Habitat: Moles are highly specialized for subterranean life. Eastern moles prefer moist, sandy, or loamy soil. They occur in meadows, gardens, cultivated fields, river bottoms, mountain slopes, and forests.

Behavior: Breeding occurs once a year, usually in late winter or early spring. Litter sizes range from 2 to 5 young. Eastern moles are active year-round and do not hibernate. They are solitary except during the breeding season. Eastern moles construct two basic types of tunnels. Temporary, or feeding, tunnels are constructed barely beneath the surface but at a uniform depth. These tunnels are built by the mole during its search for food. The lower level tunnels are located from 20 to 60 cm beneath the surface. These lower tunnels constitute the mole's living quarters and serve as a retreat and as a nest site for the young. Few animals prey on moles because of their subterranean habits and musky odor. Snakes, owls, and foxes are probably their main predators.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

OWR Endorses Barak Obama!

We know Barak has been waiting for this...

If you don't like the heat, then wait fifteen minutes and the humidity might kill you.

Thunder, lightning and heavy rains have produced a record setting blackberry season and a welcome change from last year's forest fires. Blackberry pie, blackberry jam, blackberry muffins, blackberry salad... Interestingly, Lula began to eat blackberries right off the bush. Buckley initially thought this was not proper behavior for a dog, but about one month later he was spotted grazing on blackberries in the field himself. The dogs now wander the fields all day and return with berry-stained snouts. Of course, the chickens are gorging themselves on berries too.

Cymande continues her garden experiment and though she feels this season's crop wasn't as abundant as planned we continue to get fresh vegetables and herbs daily. The purple carrots are especially good.

We recently cooled off in the Blue Hole at Itchetucknee Springs with our friend Allison. We also attended the July 4th fireworks downtown. Allison got to see many of our patients wandering amongst the explosions and smoke. I found the experience a bit surreal. Allison is on a raw diet, but that didn't stop us (or her) from drinking wine and eating recently slaughtered OWR chicken. We all would like to thank her for our overflowing Ipod and Ariel Pink playing continuously in the studio.

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