i-6fe0431f7a2c4cc7a3d880e73da3087b-obamavole.jpgl cannot fathom why Robert Gibbs, the President’s Press Secretary, would dispute that the animal scurrying past the President’s feet is a vole. The short tail, the shape, the fur, all scream meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus). And yet:

“Where I’m from, that’s a rat” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declared Friday, a day after whatever-it-is scurried from one set of bushes to another in the Rose Garden right in front of the President Barack Obama’s podium as he spoke to reporters.

It’s a vole. The AP quotes a Cornell biologist saying the same, but I’ve trapped enough voles to know, too. Gibbs is from Alabama, where meadow voles are less common, so his quip was understandable, but still wrong, wrong, wrong.

The AP has some fun with it, writing:

Either way, disputing the experts was a tough stance for an administration that prizes its deference to science.

And ultimately, Gibbs appeared to concede the point.

He used his Twitter account to send out the link to Wikipedia’s entry on voles, with the note, “Discuss amongst yourselves.”

Relative to the disputes the last administration picked with science, this is small potatoes.


  1. #1 Pierce R. Butler
    May 22, 2010

    Microtus pennsylvanicus?

    Vole schmole – that was just Arlen Specter stealing a little more camera time.

  2. #2 Pen
    May 22, 2010

    I think it’s American education. My husband calls all small furry animals rats. I’ve never really been able to understand why. Rats are nearly as bit as rabbits.

  3. #3 NaFun
    May 27, 2010

    And here’s the response from the little critter:


  4. #4 Bob Carroll
    May 28, 2010

    Well, Joshua knows his voles. In fact, he has one in his hands in his pic above!

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