Laura Prugh knew she shouldn’t bother trying to trap kangaroo rats in the California desert on nights when the moon was shining. Professors had told her that small mammals make themselves scarce under the light of the moon, lest they become a meal for a predator that spotted them.
But Prugh had no choice. She had so many study plots at Carrizo Plain National Monument she needed to set out her traps every night she could. That’s when, over time, she noticed a funny thing — she caught more of the fist-size, nocturnal creatures on nights lit by the moon.