Largest sample collected this summer

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This is the largest pellet sample Amber and I collected this summer! We collected 5 brown paper bags of pellets from 2 small sheds that a nearby owl was using as a day roost. These bags went in the walk-in freezer at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum until I had time to process them. Once I did, I soaked all the pellets in sodium hydroxide (equivalent to Draino) to dissolve the fur and clean the bones for identification. The remaining skeletal material was stored in plastic vials (a wopping 86 vials!) until I could sort through them a couple weeks ago. It took me almost 2 weeks to sort, identify, and add up the abundances of all the species in the sample.

This included:

653 prairie deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus)

42 northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster)

8 olive-backed pocket mice (Perognathus fasciatus)

378 meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus)

174 sagebrush voles (Lemmiscus curtatus)

1 muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

86 prairie shrews (Sorex haydeni)

3 masked shrews (Sorex cinerius)

1 pygmy shrew (Sorex hoyi)

7 least weasels (Mustela nivalis)

Plus an additional 158 mice, 36 voles, 3 squirrels, 107 shrews, 5 weasels, 1 rabbit, and 12 birds that were unidentifiable to species.

Pretty great find!

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