Friday, May 2, 2014

The Beasts of Le Ripe

Local Fauna, a Taxonomy

Indigenous and introduced, the wildlife at Le Ripe, and in Chianti generally, is varied and abundant. This list only covers interesting four-legged mammals, for birds have been discussed in detail elsewhere: see posts on starlings, bird visitors, the nightingale and feeding birds while bees and a magnificent spider also make appearances in other posts. Traces of all the mammals below have been found in one form or another, and most have been sighted, at one time or another, at Le Ripe.

Wild Boar - Sus Scrofa

Of course this is really a wild sow; the mothers tend to move about in the company of one or two other mothers, with all their young, a kind of mothers and toddlers playgroup. The only time to fear the boar is when the mothers are protecting their young.

Crested Porcupine - Hystrix Cristata

The two most frequent traces of the porcupine: its striped quills which fall out easily when the animal is threatened; and the filching of bulbs from the garden. Bulbs are a special treat for porcupines.

Fallow Deer - Dama Dama

Larger, shyer and possibly less intelligent than the roe deer (a deer that barks when frightened cannot be terribly clever since its survival is surely compromised), the fallow deer are beautiful, graceful and horribly ubiquitous.

Roe Deer - Capreolus Capreolus

These are the real ratbags: they jump higher and further than their larger cousins, are surprisingly confident and eat any plant that is tender and not too aromatic. They even look cheeky.

Hare - Lepus Europaeus

Hares are hard to come by around Le Ripe but we have had some sightings. A noble creature.

Fox - Vulpes Vulpes

We hear their strange screeching bark at Le Ripe and have seen a few of the handsome fellows.

Badger - Meles Meles

A creature still not sighted, although we know they live in our general area: along with hare and fox they are the only native large mammals

Red Squirrel - Sciurus Vulgaris Alpinus

These squirrels are tiny, exquisite, with feathery tails and a black coat with a burgundy tinge. We only ever see one at a time. They frequent our many hazel trees. Luckily the aggressive grey squirrel has not reached this region.

Hedgehog - Erinaceus Europaeus

Occasionally hedgehogs nest near the house. Likeable chaps.

European Polecat - Mustela Putorius

Attractive, with tails more handsome than a fox's (this photo does not do it justice), the polecat has been seen at Le Ripe sauntering in its pigeon-toed fashion down a passage between two buildings: for all the world as if it owned the place. Which it does, really.

Least Weasel - Mustela Nivalis

The bane of the chicken coop in Tuscany; but not sighted so far at Le Ripe - wait till we get chickens!

Beech Marten - Martes Foina

Another pesky carnivore, but attractive and feisty too. These leave their droppings around to mark their territory. Judging from the droppings they are omnivorous and seem to adore cherries.

Wolf - Canis Lupus Lupus

We know they are about, the signs are clear: the wolf is making a comeback. See here and here.

Photos courtesy of the internet: such professional shots impossible for us here at Le Ripe

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful editorial comments! What personalities do inhabit the tuscan hillside!


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