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Unidentified Ball of Leaping Gray Fur.

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  • Unidentified Ball of Leaping Gray Fur.

    Cross-post from ADKforum:

    While sitting on the summit of Whiteface yesterday (Thursday, May 4), a small animal emerged from under the observation deck, scurried across an open area to a pile of rocks and proceeded to leap from one to another before disappearing out of view.

    In the few short seconds I had to observe it, I noticed the following:
    1. It was gray. I didn't notice any contrasting colors.
    2. It seemed at least as big as a chipmunk but much smaller than a gray squirrel.
    3. Its hairy tail was about a quarter the length of its body (no longer than a third).
    4. When jumping from one boulder to another, it leaped into the air with its front limbs outstretched.
    It's the fourth trait, the leaping, that both fascinated and amused me. You could imagine hearing a sound like "BOING!" each time it comically leaped into the air, limbs outstretched like it was sky diving. It didn't just drop from one rock to another, it sprang up into an arc.

    I've consulted the following information and voles, shrews, and mice don't fit the description because they all have hairless tails. The Woodland Jumping Mouse has the jumping trait but is disqualified by its long hairless tail.I'm stumped. Does anyone have any idea what kind of animal I may have seen?

    PS
    The single photo I took is unusable for identifying the animal.
    Last edited by Trail Boss; 05-05-2017, 10:06 AM. Reason: Typo.
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  • #2
    Maybe a flying squirrel?

    Or, maybe not. Wikipedia says they are very clumsy walkers.
    Last edited by CatskillKev; 05-05-2017, 08:52 AM.
    I might be kidding...

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    • #3
      It was definitely El Chupacabra. Whiteface is no longer safe.


      I'm going with woodrat, most likely a juvenile since its spring time. I've only ever seen one, but the description matches considering it sounds like the creature was moving around a lot through the encounter.

      http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6975.html
      Last edited by FlyFishingandBeer; 05-05-2017, 08:55 AM. Reason: Words.
      “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

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      • Trail Boss
        Trail Boss commented
        Editing a comment
        According to the link, woodrats weigh up to a pound (big!) and have long tails (8"; equal to the length of their body) covered in very short hair (1/3"). That doesn't jibe with what I saw.

    • #4
      Was it accompanied by a large cartoon moose?

      Could it be a Southern Flying Squirrel? Maybe a juvenile? They are described as drab olive gray.

      http://www.esf.edu/aec/adks/mammals/...g_squirrel.htm

      EDIT: Now after reading link above it seems they keep to lower elevations. Would be odd to see atop Whiteface.

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      • #5
        To all who've suggested Flying Squirrel:

        https://www.bing.com/images/search?q...lying+squirrel

        ​I don't recall noticing the loose folds of skin that inflate into the characteristic "wing suit" appearance. Of course, maybe the short distance it hopped didn't inflate the folds. The other problem is the fur's color. From here: "the fur on the upper parts of the body has a reddish brown cast​". Perhaps there's a seasonal color variation? Last of all, is the summit of a 4867' mountain a common place to find flying squirrels?
        Looking for Views!

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        • Makwa
          Makwa commented
          Editing a comment
          It's the Northern Flying Squirrel that is reddish. The Southern Flying Squirrel is gray. Both are in ADKs.

          See link in post #5.

          Post your picture. Maybe somebody could make out some small detail.

      • #6
        Honestly, the photo depicts the animal with about 6 pixels so ... useless.

        ​OK, Southern Flying Squirrel. You made me reconsider it as a potential candidate. The linked article mentions something else I had noticed. It has a flattened tail. The hair was spread out horizontally and not in all directions like a gray squirrel. It's also smaller than a Northern Flying Squirrel and more in line with the dimensions of the Eastern Chipmunk.

        The only remaining problem is it has some very identifiable markings that I didn't see namely a white underbody and "darkest and almost black at the edges of the membranes​". Given the short time I saw it and that I viewed it from 10-25 feet away and from 6 feet above it, I may have failed to see the white underbody and "racing stripe". But not seeing the wing suit remains a sticking point for me. Perhaps I failed to notice it because I was too amused by its "upraised front limbs landing approach".
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        • #7
          Give a look at this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mbuiLh3zAU

          This guy has a pet flying squirrel. I tracked down where he bought it and it appears to be a southern one. BTW... if you want one for a pet it'll run you $250 from some woman who sell exotic animals.

          The different color fur of the underbelly is rather obvious in this video though. Definitely not a totally gray fur ball.

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          • CatskillKev
            CatskillKev commented
            Editing a comment
            Doesn't look clumsy, and the wing suit doesn't show...

        • #8
          That's looking a lot less like what I saw.
          • ​The white underbody and black stripe are unmistakable. (I didn't see those markings)
          • ​When you get a clear view of it, like at 37 seconds, you can see the wings on its outstretched front limbs. (I saw no wings).
          • ​It doesn't leap upward but dives. (I saw it bound upward; a distinctly comical aspect of its locomotion; BOING!)
          Looking for Views!

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          • CatskillKev
            CatskillKev commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, you see the wings when they are gliding through the air, but I think they pretty much disappear when they are not gliding.

          • Trail Boss
            Trail Boss commented
            Editing a comment
            Indeed, the wings are normally only visible while in flight. I saw the animal bound into the air about three times and the limbs never broadened into anything even vaguely wing-like. The only thing reminiscent of a flying squirrel was the outstretched limbs. The main difference is that the little guy would spring up like a tiddlywink. It's why I thought it was a Jumping Mouse except it didn't have the characteristic hairless tail.
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