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I think you were right the first time. The subspecies has orange on its head - my specimen's head is all black.
Thanks. I took the photos w/ my iPhone w/ an add on Macro lens. I practically had to touch the grasshoppers with the lens. Just added a video.
It is neither a black rat or a roof rat. I've seen both in person. This fat rat had very loose skin - akin to the look of a chinchilla - it's robust hindquarters were not muscular or toned looking like those types of rats. This was not a sleek animal like those rodents. The face on this specimen is too broad and too short to even look similar. I wish I had taken more photos.
My guess is that the owners of the restaurant came in the back to set up for the day, overlooking the cadaver. The rat had likely been dead for several hours. There were flies burrowing into its flesh, but there was no odor - so it hadn't been there for days or anything. It was in front of (5 ft. to the right of the main entrance) to a very well-trafficked, popular restaurant - I cannot imagine it was there the previous day during normal operating hours without the owners knowing about it and removing it by then.
Squeeeeeeeeeal! So cute! They look like Gremlins and Tribbles had babies.
Thanks. It's the only time one has been a captive audience so I could actually get a photo. They're very fast & jittery. This was a particularly small one. We get some twice the size sometimes... might be a gender difference - not sure.
I recognized this right away - a friend had tons of raccoon visitors in her yard. When she & her husband redid their deck, they found raccoon skulls underneath and many in perfect condition. Kinda morbid, but she decorated her window sills with them.
This looks like a type of longhorn beetle - that may help narrow your search on bugguide.net.
Looks like a type of skink to me... the head shape and body pattern are very similar to skinks - the tail is freakishly long!