What is this strange animal?

My Ballard reader “Old Lady” emailed us this photo and asks, “What is this?”

She explains: “This guy showed up on our deck tonight on Seaview Ave. At first I thought it was a big rat and then thought it might be a nutria, but when I checked out information on nutria, it sounds like they are a lot bigger and have tails. This didn’t have a tail and was about the size of a guinea pig, say 10” long and about 3-4 lbs. It didn’t have any fear of us at all. I had to prod it gently with a barbecue fork to get it away from my pea vines.”

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Ken
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Ken

That is a mountain beaver. Common in the Pacific Northwest; marked presence in Discovery Park. (Though you won't see them from the trail.)

Robin
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Robin

It looks like a vole (that's vole, not mole) which is a member of the mouse and rat family.

Robin
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Robin

Ken's right. A vole is smaller and can have a tail.

KF
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KF

Not a nutria – no big orange teeth, and too small. from the looks of the claws/feet it looks like some kind of mole, burrowing animal…

TTTCOTTH
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TTTCOTTH

It's a Combat Wombat

eb
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eb

Mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa californica) as per Ken's ID.

The US Forest Service has a photo that resembles the guy on your deck at:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/images/contact/wi

And the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has a page on them:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/mtn_beavers.htm

KC
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KC

Mountain Beaver. They love to eat rhody blossoms. I thought people were stealing my flowers because the teeth of these little varmints make it look like someone “cuts” the plant. I discovered one eating one day. You can call animal control and the will bring you a trap to catch and them have him/her relocated.

dj
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dj

looks like a mountain beaver, aplodontia, the world's most primitive rodent. they're native to the northwest, and have fur as soft as chinchillas. sweet and harmless, unless you're a young cedar tree, then it will want to live in your root system.

Jim
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Jim

My dog and I have spotted some sort of creature at the peripheral of our path during our early morning walks. We've only seen this creature a few times. I've tried to describe it to my wife, who thought maybe this animal is what we saw but our creature was substantially larger. Who knows, maybe we saw the mama!

nwcitizen
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nwcitizen

Thank you! I knew I had mountain beavers in my yard because I could see their burrows but had never seen one. Thanks for the pictures and the info.

Sean McClintock
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An interesting tidbit about mountain beavers —

“Although the largest flea (Hystrichopsylla schefferi) in the world—it is up to ¼ inch long—is found on mountain beavers and in their burrows, it does not bother humans.”

Been there done that. . .
Guest
Been there done that. . .

Yeppers – Mountain Beavers do not see well and have little fear of humans. Live trap him and put him in an area that has water and foliage and you won't see him again. I speak from my own experience with one of the little fellows

RE:  Been there done that...
Guest
RE: Been there done that...

Just out of curiosity, how do you trap them? A shoebox? Do they bite? Can they contract rabies?

boardbrown
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boardbrown

Snallygaster!

Jennifer Crew
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Why is it not a marmot? That's what it looks like to me!

Ducky
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Ducky

Wow…looks like we've got an R.O.U.S. on our hands.

cavy rescuer
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cavy rescuer

That is a guinea pig that a pet owner probably dumped. As a former rescue owner I saw it all the time. Some child got “bored” of his new pet and the parent wouldn't take responsibility and let it loose in a park. They usually do not survive well in the wild, as they've been domesticated since the Incas.

trapperwuman
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trapperwuman

mah boyfrin breeds guinneys and sells em to chilrins who need pets- one musta scaped and ben lookin for supper. theys is trained to answer to a fat lady whistlin, reel em in that way. boyfrin can come swoop it up once the lil rascal is trapped.

guest
Guest
guest

Looks like a mountain beaver, great article about them in the Pacific Northwest section of the Sunday Seattle Times(Feb 8, 2009). I have seen one in Golden Gardens park, unafraid of me and loved water. He was on the side of a hill enjoying the flowing water eating plants. Looked like a friendly harmless cute critter.

gooner
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gooner

it is the ever elusive snipe

Linda Jane
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Linda Jane

Yes, that looks like a mountain to me as well, although I'm still recovering from laughter at “Combat Wombat” – he's even doing the commando crawl!!!

Linda Jane
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Linda Jane

oops, apparently I made a mountain out of a mole-like creature. I meant “mountain beaver”. I guess I shouldn't laugh and type.

Trix
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Trix

Nice one, Ducky! Was hoping somebody would mention it. ;-)

datajunkie
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datajunkie

I saw a possum three nights ago in Ballard. I didn't even know Seattle had possums.

candice.
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candice.

I caught a baby possum in my garage last week. Poor little guy's mom lay dead in the street a block away, I think.