Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Boomer aka Mountain Beaver
For one thing, it hosts the world's largest flea (3/8th of an inch long--yeeks!). And despite the name, they're not beavers, and they are more commonly found at lower altitudes than in the mountains. Another common name for this rodent is boomer, because they can emit a low moaning sort of sound.
Though boomers are primarily nocturnal, burrowing creatures, occasionally day hikers have peered at one in the rustling underbrush and wondered, "What the heck is that?" (Well, okay, at least I have...)
But tree farmers and foresters know all about mountain beavers. Although they favor sword fern, at certain times of the year they'll also eat seedlings and can girdle--and thereby kill--young trees.
Boomers have extensive burrows that include food chambers, a sleeping chamber, another chamber for fecal pellets, and tunnels that link all. You may not see a boomer on your next hike in the PNW, but chances are there's one somewhere along the trail, right under your nose/boots.