However, it's rare (in my experience) that one gets multiple pictures of the same critter over the course of several weeks and still can't figure out what it is.
But...here's an exception. This is along a river corridor...sparsely wooded in this location....with steep muddy banks. I've gotten numerous pictures of raccoon, deer, possum, etc.. But this one continues to evade me.
I'm thinking, based on size, that it's a mink. However, when the camera was first deployed, I put down a dab of commerical otter lure (Lennon's Otter All-Call). This critter seems to ignore that lure and I don't know why a mink would do that.
At any length, the critter first shows up a few days after the camera went up.
Then....a few days later (always heading the same direction).
And again the next night.
These had been stumping me all week. Today, I went and swapped cards on this camera and found more pictures of this mysterious critter.
Now...the last one is still a mystery, but slightly different than the rest.
After zooming in on the critter, I saw this:
Now...it's still pretty dang hard to say what this is. But, upon closer inspection this almost appears to be TWO, not one, animals. And...perhaps its my mind playing tricks on me, but they almost appear to be within the throws of coitus. Excuse my ham-fisted attempts at using a photo editing software. But, it *almost* looks as if there are two back feet facing the camera (see yellow arrows). The feet also appear to have five toes, which both raccoons and mustelids (like a mink) have. And could that possibly be a pair of testicles circled in red?
Perhaps my interest in figuring this out is not endearing me to some, but I am incredibly curious about what this critter is!!
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission reports that mink breed from late January through February....so the timing is right. The Commission also reports them frequenting primarily wetlands...but Webster et al. (2003) Mammals of the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland report they are also found along the borders of other water bodies, such as streams, rivers, lakes, and even drainage ditches.
Seeing as this camera is located along a river/stream system...the habitat is right. There are also otter in this general vacinity....but these look to small for otter to me. At first I would have believed a juvenile otter when they were walking by solo, but with the pair of them (if, in fact, that is a pair) acting as I think they are acting...then these are adults.
When I swapped the memory cards on the camera this time, I dripped some of Mark June's Shellfire Lure (pure uncut shellfish oil). I would assume this works on otter and mink (critters that will eat shellfish), lthough I know it draws in Raccoon and 'possum....maybe it will get our mystery critter to turn around for just a few seconds.
I am still leaning towards mink.
Maybe some of my non-existant blog readers can figure it out!
oh...and for reference....here's a picture of a raccoon at the same camera, so you can see the size comparison.