Outings > Day Hikes

A Murder in the Grass!



Things have seemed a little slow on the forum lately.  So I thought I'd share a hike I did a couple of weekends ago in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  A bunch of animal trackers and I find the body of an animal, and then struggle to piece together what happened.  I think the answer is fascinating.

Have you seen this before?  Would you have known what happened?  What do you think of our theory about how it died?

WARNING:  The article contains pictures of a dead animal.


- Woodsorrel  (On my way out the door to go hiking)

I doubt the culprit was a garter snake.  More likely a cat, well fed, from the nearby barn.  Our cats out here on the farm routinely kill Voles and leave them on the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs coming off the decks.  Voles covered in saliva may actually be covered in dew.  There are other things that kill Voles but most of those critters (coyotes and bobcats  among others) will eat them on the spot.  I have heard that horses will kill them by biting them but have never seen one do it.  Bull snakes are also potential culprits and a large one can handle a Vole easily.  May have been spooked off or was just too full to eat it.

Nice post and good photos.  Thanks.

Thanks for your thoughts, wsdstan!  Cat is certainly a possibility.  When the cats chew on a vole, is the front deformed like the one in the pictures?

The consistency of the liquid seemed like saliva.  The hair was soaked and matted with it up to a point.  Then it was completely dry.  I'll think more about it.


  - Woodsorrel

In the case of cats, they kill them with a bite and then might carry them around for some time which could account for the look of your Vole in the photo.  Our cat, who lives in the house, does this quite a bit.  The two barn cats probably just eat them as their food dish is generally cleaned out by a raccoon or some other creature during the night.   :shrug:


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