Say hello to Root Simple’s new CritterCam and to some of Los Angeles’ many enterprising rats!
For my recent birthday Kelly got me a Moultrie M-990i game camera, a device used by hunters and wildlife researchers. It’s a digital still and video camera with a infrared flash and a motion detector. If something moves in front of the camera a picture or video is taken. It also stamps the time and records temperature and moon phase. [See update at the end of this post–this is probably the wrong camera for the application I intend. Thanks Max!]
My plan is to use it for some urban, backyard citizen science. Specifically I want to figure out a few things:
- What mammals are visiting the backyard?
- What paths do they take through the yard?
- What kinds of birds are visiting the bird bath?
- Have my skunk proofing efforts worked?
- What’s the most active time in the night for mammalian activity?
- How many cats are visiting and what time do they come through?
- What’s the best way to critter proof fruit trees and vegetable gardens?
- What mammal is chewing on our fruit?
- How often do coyotes visit and at what time? (We’ve seen them two times in the backyard).
- Are rats visiting our chicken feeder?
- When does a broody hen get up to eat?
- What critters are hanging around the chicken coop at night?
- Use the camera’s time lapse function to look at shade patterns in the yard.
I’ll share the results on the blog over the next year.
The first night I used the camera I pointed it at the grape arbor where I know rats visit. The resulting images, that I strung together into the video above, show at least two rats who set off the camera around 30 times throughout the night between 8:30 PM and 5:30 AM.
This is the first year that we’ve got a significant crop off of either of our two grapevines. I think I could have prevented most of the rat problem by picking all the grapes just slightly before they were fully ripe.
What critters visit your backyard?
Update: I may have the wrong camera for, at least, capturing rats. The images I got may be just because I set the camera up close to where the rats were feeding. Root Simple reader Max sent in the following letter from Moultrie:
The PIR, of our game cameras, is set to pick up larger movement and eliminate false triggering of the smaller game that you have listed. This is because the people that rely on our cameras for game management do not want numerous pictures of squirrels, and such, when focused on larger game. Our sister company – Wingscapes – is better suited for the things that you are interested in. We suggest looking at the BirdCam Pro and the Wildlife Cam offered at http://www.wingscapes.com/products/cameras.