There are mouse tracks all over the snow in my yard. I’m pretty sure they are made by White-footed Mice, since that’s the species I come across throughout the year. They spend most of the time beneath the snow, but venture out in the evening.
The mouse tracks are often accompanied by another set of larger tracks, these made by our Jack Russell, Maddy.
Being a terrier, Maddy lives the dream of one day catching one of these little varmints. She knows they’re under there, and is intent on ferreting them out. She actually snaps the twigs growing out above their stronghold, with her teeth, in order to make the tunneling easier. It’s an action I imagine is on the edge of the use of tools. It reminds me of film I’ve seen of crows using sticks to forage. It shows a capacity for problem solving.
She hasn’t caught a mouse yet, at least that I’m aware of, but the dream lives on. I’m not quite sure who I’m rooting for. I’ve got nothing against the little mousies, but there’s a part of me that would love to see Maddy’s tenacity rewarded.
Incidentally, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book about the life cycle of the White-footed Mouse (“A Mouse’s Life – Scholastic). I guess that’s why I feel a certain affinity for them.
From “A Mouse’s Life (John Himmelman – Scholastic)