Several days ago we posted a story about a weasel in England that jumped a woodpecker, and soon found itself airborne aboard the bird’s back.

 

Weasels are very interesting animals. Almost every Google discovery uses the word vicious to describe them. There is another attack story from England, this time a weasel attacking a squirrel. Rabbits and pigeons also are prey. Weasels think big.

 

We have or had a weasel living here, seen in our yard last summer, but unfortunately it has not made a dent in the squirrel population. 

 

A Wisconsin web site lists weasels with badgers and wolverines when it comes top contenders for North America’s toughest mammal predators.  A couple of web sites list weasel as the smallest carnivore in North America. Not true. The short-tailed shrew has that honor. It is smaller than most mice, with a metabolism running full-tilt all of the time. The heart rate of a shrew at rest has been recorded at 750 beats per minute. It must eat prey equal to its own weight every day. 

 

Some years ago, in a rented garage, I had a rat problem. I set out a large wooden snap trap. It caught a mouse. I ignored it on first sight, coming back later to reset the trap. It was nowhere to be seen. I also had short-tailed shrews (sort of like a zoo, that garage). I found the trap under a cupboard, nothing remaining of the mouse but a shred of skin. I’m certain that a shrew, tiny little guy with that huge appetite, dragged the trap into that dark crevice to eat in private. The trap had to weigh 50 or 60 times as much as that tiny shrew, maybe more. I’ll bet a shrew could eat a weasel in the right circumstances (maybe after it fell from a flying woodpecker). 

 

Short-tailed shrews can be identified by the darkened tips of their front teeth. This shrew species also is one of the world’s few poisonous mammals, injecting prey when its bites.

 

That woodpecker was lucky its attacker was only a weasel.

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