In some places we’re getting close to that time of year when we have to start mowing the lawn again.
Meanwhile, there’s new research about a rodent that also cuts the grass, and for a pretty good reason.
This creature is known as the Brandt’s vole, which lives in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China.
It’s a grassland creature, and it will cut down tall clumps of bunchgrass from time to time.
A new research project by scientists from China, the UK and the US found out why.
Brandt’s voles are prey for certain types of shrikes, birds that are best known for flying their prey around and then impaling them on sharp objects.
Their completely unsurprising nickname is “butcherbirds.”
Anyway, the researchers found that when shrikes are known to be nearby, Brandt’s voles will cut down bunchgrass, so that they can keep a better lookout.
The shrikes apparently consider shorter clumps of grass to be poor for hunting, and they look elsewhere.
The scientists then took the experiment further, and put up nets in certain areas to keep the birds out.
When there are no shrikes nearby, the voles let the grass grow.
So cutting the grass is clearly something they do in response to their predators overhead.
And it’s an energy-intensive response: the voles don’t eat the grass or use it for any other purpose, they only cut it down to keep an eye on the skies.
Though I hope that after cutting the grass, a vole will then shake its fist at the predator and shout “get off my lawn!”
If you’ve ever thought about having your own little work from home pod or writing cabin just a few steps from where you live, here’s an idea.
According to CNN, a company in Ireland called Aeropod is taking sections of old airplanes and turning them into tiny workspaces and backyard cabins.
If it’s an old airplane, you definitely call it upcycling.
Voles cut grass to watch flying predators (University of Exeter)
Photo by Bogomolov.PL, via Wikicommons