Hello my name is Ms. Heard. Please join me as I travel to Nova Scotia to study small mammal populations!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today we set traps.  It turns out to be far more complicated than I expected.  These traps are designed to catch mice.  But they can also catch other similarly sized rodents such as voles or chipmunks.  Before you read any more, try to figure out what must be done in preparing a trap so that a small animal can survive a cold night in one...

The small animal needs food and bedding to stay warm and fed.  With small stomachs and fast metabolisms (first graders:  who can tell me what metabolism is?), they need to eat more often than we do, and they can't go all night without some food.  The bedding is important to keep them comfortable and warm.  Today when we set the traps it was about 28 degrees and lightly snowing.  An animal can freeze to death in that weather if stuck in a metal box all night.  So the bedding is crucial for survival.  To further ensure the animal will be ok, after setting the trap in place, it gets covered with more grass or moss. 
After preparing the traps with bedding and food, then I had to crawl around in thick underbrush setting them in place according to a grid established by the scientists.  The other members of my team and I each had a big plastic box full of traps we prepared, which we had to carry in parallel lines 10 meters apart from each other and set the traps down at regular intervals.

Today's challenge for you (both 1st graders AND environmental science students):  can you guess how to pick a spot where to place the trap once you reach the appointed area in the grid?  Hint: think about where you might catch a mouse in the wild.  You can post your guesses here for other Dutchmen to see.  First graders:  can you get the answer before the Upper School boys do?


  1. Possibly in the underbrush beneath the trees?

  2. Hi Miss Heard!

    The first graders in 1T think that you would place the traps near their homes which would be holes in the ground. You might also put the traps under some branches. You could put them somewhere near the food that they eat in their natural habitat. We think it's important to think about places they would go and to place the traps there. Overall, the trap should look like the natural environment of the animal.

  3. Hi 1T,
    You guys are pretty smart! The traps definitely have to be on the ground. The opening has to point at a place where mice or other small animals would be walking around. Under branches is not enough, though. Alongside branches or logs lying on the ground is a great place! We were told to "think like a mouse" when setting out our traps. It sounds like 1T is good at thinking like a mouse!
    Ms. Heard