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What Time it is in Nature: Trapping Mammals with Camera Traps

February 20, 2013

One of the Museum’s biologists, Dr. Roland Kays, studies migrations in animals.  As part of his work, he uses camera traps to document the mammals living in a variety of locations around the world.  When an animal passes by one of the camera traps, it snaps a photo.  In this way, researchers can document animals with as little human interference as possible, making camera trapping a popular means of studying animal activity in remote and urban areas alike.

Dr. Kays has placed camera traps at Prairie Ridge in the past to document the animals that use the grounds and found that a variety of mammals are present.  Recently, he has been interested in whether the prescribed fire that took place on Monday would flush any interesting mammals out of the grasses.  He’s documented several species with the camera traps so far.  This deer came up close to inspect the camera a few nights ago:


We often see deer at Prairie Ridge, but the camera traps are capturing more elusive animals as well.  This fox wandered by a little over a week ago:


Every now and again we’ll see a rabbit out on the prairie, but they make rather regular appearances at the camera traps at night:


Because we are not open at night, the camera traps also allow us the opportunity to see things that are rarely active or out in the open during the day as well.  This opossum was the first of its kind documented on the grounds:


It’s a treat to see the camera trap images as some of the animals it captures are rarely observed by the staff and visitors of Prairie Ridge during our normal hours.  If you’d like to see more footage from the camera traps, Dr. Kays is sharing them on his Twitter feed at @camtraplive (  We encourage you to follow along with the project online, but be sure to keep an eye out for some of the animals from the camera trap footage on your next visit to Prairie Ridge as well.  You never know when you might see a fox darting into the grasses to hunt or a deer grazing along the trails!

What Time is it in Nature is a weekly feature highlighting the current plants, animals, and other wildlife at the Musuem’s public outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge Ecostation. Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive!

(Photos by Dr. Roland Kays)

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