Hi, my name is Amanda. Please travel with me to Nova Scotia to study mammals and climate change!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Home

This was our last day together in Nova Scotia, tomorrow we'll all get on a plane and go back to our homes. So that got me thinking about what makes a good home. We've been learning about the different habitats of animals we see here and that some of them are extremely vulnerable when their environment changes. People often make the mistake of thinking that other animals can make do wherever they are, the way that people can. Humans have managed to be successful at living in almost every corner of the planet. We can make clothes, build shelters, and trade with each other for what we need. Sometimes we even get so clever that we forget how much we still depend on our environment for survival. I don't grow or gather my food, or go to the river for water, or make my clothes, or build my home, but I could. I would spend all of my time doing it, but I could do it. Instead, I can rely on other people to help me get these things from the earth so I can spend my time working, playing, or thinking. On the other hand, most animals are spending all of their time trying to meet their basic needs of food and shelter. Mammals sometimes live alone or in groups, but they are very territorial. They may need a small or a large territory to survive in the wild, which they will defend. We as humans can understand the need to protect our home, but again we have to remember that people are not like other animals. Animals defend their territory because there is only enough food and room to raise babies for a certain number of animals. Only the strongest animals, which have found enough food to be healthy, will be able to defend their home. Being able to keep a territory means that animal or group of animals can secure food and shelter. This really sunk in for me this week when we captured a meadow vole. It was a female that had a long black strip of fur on her back. Fur can grow back black from an injury, and from the look of it, she was probably attacked by a bird of prey but then managed to escape. We caught her again in the same trap a few hours later, but when we opened the trap she was dead. Although we were sad, it was probably just her time. She had made it through the winter and had survived an attack, which is more than most voles can say. But Christina also suggested that maybe when she was attacked by the bird, she had been carried a bit and landed outside of her territory. She would have survived for the moment but then would have no home or stockpile of food. If it was a good place for a vole to live, other voles would be living there and keep her out. So she would have been in a tough situation. When we put our trap out we could have been saving her life! The trap is warm, nothing else lives in it, and it's full of food - perfect if you don't have your own home or food. Maybe that's why she was so eager to go back in once we released her. This is another reason why you never release an animal into a place it is not familiar with. Other animals are as connected to their homes as we are! And I am happy to be going back to mine :)

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