Name that rodent

I posted a photo of a Red-tailed Hawk the other day with a large dark-colored piece of food and I asked: “What’s for lunch?”

Here’s an enlargement.

There really are only two possibilities for this region, given the size and color.  This is either a BLACK RAT (Rattus rattus) or a TOWNSEND’S VOLE (Microtus townsendii).  If we go by the apparent tail length, the tail looks too short for a rat.  However, a single field mark (or the lack thereof) can deceive.  The size of the head, the presence of large ears and that cone-shaped baggy bit, posterior of the legs, all point to an old-world rat.

If only there was another photo…

As is often the case, this hawk did some prepping ahead of eating and removed most of the tail.  That’s it sitting on the stump below the  blood stains.

So, my conclusion (always subject to debate)… BLACK RAT.