Hili’s depredations

December 31, 2013 • 12:50 am

When I let Hili in this morning (it is frosty and -1C), she had brought a present with her.  It’s obviously some kind of rodent, but I thought readers might be able to identify it as to species.  (I am not a mammalogist.)

I must say that I have a pang of anguish when I see something like this, even though mousing is supposed to be a virtue in cats. This, however, was an outdoor rodent.



I have always been dubious that cats actually bring these things as presents to their owners, but as soon as I finished photographing the unfortunate rodent, Hili grabbed it and brought it inside, with the clear intention of nomming it. (She was grabbed and separated from her prey, to her loud consternation.)  It almost seems as if she wanted us to see it before she ate it.

43 thoughts on “Hili’s depredations

      1. Hey, the Romans ate them dipped in honey so they can’t be all that bad….however the Romans did a lot of questionable things, like killing people in the Flavian Amphitheatre.

          1. From the mention of Flinders’ Street Station I gather this was performed in my home town, Melbourne. I wish I had seen it!

          2. That was brilliant.
            At 1:16 he is talking about our embarrassing current Australian prime minister, wearing bright red budgie smugglers in some sporting event some years back.
            It was big news at the time (nothing much happens here in Oz).

  1. A common field mouse? At any rate, she brought you a present, Jerry. I hope you were suitably grateful.

    This is the behavior that got cats in on the good side of early agriculturalists. The wee beasties you feel sorry for eat stored grain.

    Good Hili!

  2. It looks like some kind of vole to me, but I am only familiar with the two species that occur in Britain. If it is a dull orange on its back, I would say a bank vole. The tail is too long for the other common vole species.

    1. Why not Eurasian Harvest Mouse?

      Not much to go on, but light belly and tail equal to body might be helpful in ID. Does not look at all like a shrew to me, and not much like the few (W No. American) voles I’ve had dealings with. But, I’m just guessing based on limited and inadequate resources.

      1. Agreed; most voles have short tails. However, my reference book describes the tail of the bank vole as “moderately long”. My garden is hoaching with the destructive little pests (and field voles as well), and the tail length looks about right for the many that I have seen. It is not easy to be certain from the photographs.
        The nose looks too blunt for a mouse.

  3. Our old lady still mouses at 16. What takes away the pang of seeing such a poor dead critter is to donate it. I leave her presents outside for the racoons and feral cats. Always accepted. I especially hate when she kills birds and frogs, which is hardly ever, now that she’s slowing down and we closed up the pond.

  4. Here in Ontario, people call voles and field mice the same thing so I’ll throw my hat in with the field mouse folk.

    Shrews are very tender. If you shout loudly at them, they die.

    I feel sorry for poor cute little squeaky so I get the anguish.

  5. When I lived in a house, the cat I had used to regularly leave me presents like that at the back door. And one winter night I found it batting some mouse back and forth on the ice in the driveway. My kids and I named the game “mice hockey”.

  6. Cats and prey are weird.

    One time, the cat caught a mouse, still alive. Brought it to show to the dog. The dog killed it, gave it back to the cat, who then nommed it.

    Then another time, cats were chasing a mouse in the house. It went and hid under one of the other cats, its tail sticking out from a pile of fur. There was a reason that cat was named Fuzzbrain.

  7. As an Official Mammologist specializing in rodents (tho with little experience with European species), I’m almost positive that Achrachno is correct. It’s most likely a harvest mouse, Micromys minutus. Definitely not a shrew or a vole, and back feet are wrong for a field or wood mouse. Medium length, rather blunt tail, shortish nose and medium ears fit harvest mouse best.

    1. Thank you for further clarification. One additional thing I found is that the harvest mouse is the smallest European rodent, and notice how small Hili’s victim is relative to Hili’s head. I’m feeling that we have this nailed down.

  8. I had heard that cats that do this are attempting to teach their owners about hunting as they would with a kitten.

  9. Usually all I find under the kitchen table is what appears to be a stomach. Sometimes other organs but generally just the stomach.
    I feel no anguish at all for the little buggers because they eat my strawberries. I was finding rows of teeth marks in them which I had to throw away. Now I have covered the bed in a fine mesh. I was very happy one morning to find a mouse head next to it.
    As good as they are at catching mice, I have never seen any sign of them catching birds. Although one day a bird flew in my front door with a cat close behind. It flew around the lounge room a few times with the cat chasing after but luckily managed to get back out the door to safety.

    1. As good as they are at catching mice, I have never seen any sign of them catching birds.

      Bellies too full of mice?

    2. My cats would also leave a small mouse part. I asked my vet about it, and he said it was likely the liver because it contains the gall bladder which is very bitter in taste, and that cats learn to leave that part.

  10. Magnifying the picture reveals the 2 large, isolated, orangy-brown incisors in each jaw; it’s a rodent, not a shrew. Tail doesn’t look fluffy enough for a dormouse, though it’s hard to be sure. The orangish color, sharply contrasting white belly, and long tail rule out European as well as North American Voles.

    European Harvest Mouse looks possible, though of course there may be other possibilities I don’t know about.

  11. An Abyssinian cat I had years ago used to catch rats, we lived near a council depot and it was well provided with rodents. He ate the pointy end and left the arse end with tail attached for me to dispose of. I figured he liked the crunchy bits.

    One of our current cats, Chairman Meow is a superb bird catcher. We keep him in at night so as not to be woken up by the anguished squawks of an Indian Miner bird being brought inside for our delectation. It’s amazing how many feathers one small bird has.

  12. Best guess: Eurasian harvey mouse. A closer look at the mouse’s foot, in the photo with Hili, suggests an opposable outer toe (for climbing, along with its prehensile tail).

  13. Among the Aboriginal population of Taiwan, of whom my wife is a member, roast field mice were a popular dish. Quite tasty, if a little gamey.

  14. We have both moles and voles in our yard. Saw a mole yesterday scurrying through the snow, leaving an interesting trail. Lovely slate grey velveteen. They’re thriving because of all the birdseed on the ground.

  15. Mice can be very destructive to orchards and are often controlled by poison. If this is the case with Hili’s orchard, she could be poisoned by eating the mice.

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