from a post dated January 7, 2008. Thinking it was a baby groundhog (a.k.a. "Woodchuck") but not understanding why a baby groundhog would exist in early January in Minnesota, (they are usually born in mid to late March, or even early April in these parts) questions shrouded the story from day one.
Recently, more facts have come to light.
I am told by experienced local naturalist Scott Ramsay, that it is unlikely to be a groundhog.
But, say I, "groundhogs are of the Order Rodentia, (derived from the Latin, "to chew") and I know rodents have orange incisors, it's a characteristic trait."
"Um yes", Scott tries to break it to me slowly, "all rodents EXCEPT groundhogs have orange incisors, which have white. No one really knows why that is."
"D'oh!," says I.
"Plus," Scott adds, "groundhogs are usually about that size WHEN THEY ARE BORN LIVE, and they have no hair." This animal has hair and is as large as a baby groundhog, probably making it older than a baby groundhog.
Owing to its size, the color of the teeth, the large head in relation to the body size, the gray underfur and the brown uberfur, the short furry tail and the active winter feeding and tunneling, we now hypothesize that this animal is a Synaptomys cooperi, the Southern Bog Lemming.
The only fork in that road being that Southern Bog Lemmings aren't generally known for inhabiting this corner of the state, and at this low of an elevation.
Small mammal and Muridae experts feel free to join in at will.
More on this nail-biting story as it progresses...