Thursday, September 25, 2008

THE CLIMBING MOUSE

The genus Haeromys consists of three species which are Haeromys margarettae, H. pusillus and H. minahassae. From these three species only two species of it’s occurs in Borneo; H. margarettae and H. pusillus. There are only a few informations about the Bornean climbing mice especially from the genus Haeromys. As far as I know there were only a few records of its occurrences has been made (For more information about this genus, go to the Mammals Species of The World websites). There is a story that I want to share about my own experienced catching this rare seen climbing mouse.

Back in August 2006, I was assist bird’s group at one of the peat-swamp forest (conservation area). One night, we were going out for night survey. We paddle up along the river using two boats. As usual I will become very excited; however I was a little bit upset because after a while we didn’t spot any animals. An hour later we spot a few frogs and one of our members thought he saw eyes of leopard cat but we are not sure of that. Suddenly our boatmen told us he saw a frog eating a rat. When I heard it, I become very eager to know what rat is that. Why it is eaten by frog? Sound not make sense to me. We move our boat towards the eyes of the animals. As we come closer then we realize that is a climbing mouse. I admit that I am still not familiar with identification of wild animals that year. It is just my 10th months of working here. It was my colleague that identifies it. He seems to be very sure what it is. The mouse hides underneath of the dead leaves and it is just keep quite there. We push each other to catch that little creature but none of us go forward. After a while the mouse climb up the small trees and it’s already above our head. When it’s moves, we can see clearly that the tail is very long. It is almost 150% from its body length. We don’t want to lose it so my friend shakes the small tree and poor mouse, its fall down into the river. However, we still not brave enough to grab it. Its climb back to the river bank and I lost my patient. Without thinking twice I grab that small creature with my bare hand. Even though I was afraid it will bite me but if I didn’t do it who else wants to do it. When my friend told me that is a new record for our area, it makes me more eager to take it back.



That little creature is not that kind to me, it bite me when I try to move it into a bag. Yaiks..it’s painful but I am glad that we have it. We bring it back to our camp and we use our field guide book to identify this little creature. After take the measurements we are sure it is Ranee Mouse (Haeromys margarettae) but still a little bit confusion with the Sundaic Haeromys (Haeromys pusillus). This is because we are using A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo (Payne et al, 1998) and its only has description for H. margarettae. Lucky the freelance nature photographer (http://www.wildborneo.com.my) join our trip and he took a few shots of this animal. The photos that I have here are taken by him.


So, my advice to everyone that have passion and very keen to know about wildlife out there please put your safety as your priority when you are in the field. It was my stupidity that makes this little creature bite me and lucky it didn’t bring any disease. Now, I learn a lot of things when I am in the jungle. Safety is the best policy.

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