Just once, part 14

vole, likely meadow vole Microtus pennsylvanicus, realizing the photographer is getting closer
This week, we have a meadow vole, or at least I believe it is (Microtus pennsylvanicus, if I’m correct,) coming to the realization that the guy with the big black thing in his hands was actually closer every time it looked up. Meadow voles aren’t particularly scarce, but they have preferred habitats and are easy targets for numerous predators, so this represents perhaps only the fourth time I’d seen one in the wild and the first time photographing one, though I’d handled a couple while doing wildlife rehab. The funny thing is, so few people have even heard of them; many more, perhaps, have seen them, but mistook them for rats or rabbits solely from that unfamiliarity. They’re benign and unassuming little herbivores, and probably do less damage to gardens than rabbits.

This was at the rental condo when we were staying out at North Topsail Beach, NC, one spring, and a pair could often be seen near dusk right out in the back common area. Already out there to photograph ospreys or eagles, I took the opportunity to practice my stalking, creeping closer as the vole looked away and pausing as it looked up, which worked far too well. Even when the vole decided that I had approached nearer than seemed prudent, it merely hopped over closer to a thicket where escape was easier, and resumed eating.

In size, it was probably a little larger than your closed fist, so yes, about rat size and smaller than adult rabbits, but on a par with juveniles. Pretty cute, and I need to add more images of them to my stock.

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