Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taming a Shrew

Have you ever seen a shrew? Did you know that they are venomous? Did you know that they have the largest brain to body ratio (10%) of any mammal, including humans? Well, now you do!
I caught my dog torturing this little guy in the woods yesterday. He was laying limp on the ground making tittering sounds and I thought for sure his back was broken, or he was smooshed inside, but he was still alive so I decided to bring him home for some rehab. I carried him in my hands and he just lay there looking up at me with his tiny little pinprick of an eye, it was pitiful! He's only about 2 inches long, I thought he was a mole so I looked it up and found out he is actually a shrew, and shrews are venomous!! They are part of a specialized group, as venomous mammals are rare and include slow lorises, hedgehogs, moles, and the platypus. They use their venom to paralyze their prey of course, and for the shrew this is usually worms or grasshoppers and the like- it would be way too much work for a little guy like the shrew to drag his food all the way home; so they just paralyze it and come back to it later. And the best part is- it's still alive so it won't go bad! Sounds like a horror flick, huh? Fortunately, a shrew bite wont paralyze a human, but it will swell up and be sore for a few days. Luckily, I wasn't bit, and I've been told many times not to touch wild animals, but I just can't resist trying to save a poor little guy like this!
Here are a few more interesting facts: a shrew can breathe carbon monoxide and survive on very little oxygen, they must eat 80% of their body weight daily, and they are not rodents. Also, they usually live underground or in rotten logs, and they are very social- sharing  their homes with a few friends and family.
Well, after some rest and a bunch of sunflower seeds, our little guy was up and moving about, so we took him back out to the woods to let him go. Maybe I should have just left him were I found him, but I couldn't resist trying to help. I hope he finds his burrow again and all of his little friends!

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! I knew none of this. Honestly, I think I had even forgotten that shrews existed. Good karma points for you.