The First Vole of the United States (FVOTUS)

I’ve enjoyed the hullabaloo over the rodent that upstaged President Obama during his remarks on financial reform on Thursday. As an animal aficionado, however, I’ve been disheartened by the number of people who believe the critter was a rat or mouse. As the photos show, that just isn’t so:

That, dear friends, is a vole. Indeed, I’m pretty confident it’s a meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus (you can tell by the size, body shape, ears, tail length, and presence in the Rose Garden). According to the AP, the experts agree:

“The rodent is definitely a vole,” said Paul Curtis, a wildlife biologist at Cornell University. “It has small ears hidden in fur, small eyes and a short tail. Given that the length of the tail is longer than the hind foot, I’m 99 percent certain it is a meadow vole.”

You might wonder why I think I can identify meadow voles. When I was young I caught one in the backyard (in a live trap) and kept it as a pet for a couple of days. My sister and I quickly released the little guy, however, after it leapt straight up from its cage to sink its teeth in her index finger. It took Jennifer forever, it seemed, to shake the vole off. After which we promptly returned him to the backyard. Not, I should emphasize, because we were afraid of him or mad at him. No, we were still pretty fond of him, but we feared for his life if our parents ever found out. [Obligatory warning: Kids: If a wild animal bites you, don’t wait thirty years to tell your parents.]

So watch out Mr. President, make sure Sasha and Malia enjoy the FVOTUS from a safe distance.

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