Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Subnivean Tunnels Exposed!

Posted by Kirk
The recent weather warm-up has revealed some interesting winter animal signs. The snaking line in the middle of the photo above isn't a line of tracks like we normally find when an animal runs or bounds over the top of the snow. There are mouse tracks on the left hand side of the photo. You can see how it jumps. The winding line is actually a collapsed tunnel. Many small rodents spend a good portion of the winter under the snow in what is called a subnivean habitat. Sub meaning under and nivean meaning snow.. The subnivean world is often deep under the crusty top of the snow but sometimes the tunnels are just barely under the top. When the weather warms up the roof collapses revealing the location of the tunnels.