Tough desert mouse eats scorpions and howls at the moon

By David Ferguson
Saturday, January 12, 2013 13:36 EDT
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Howling mouse via screencap
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A species of mouse that lives in the Southwestern deserts of the U.S. eats scorpions and other living things, hunts by night and howls at the moon. According to New Scientist, the grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus) will eat crickets, tarantulas, even other rodents.

Even the fearsome Arizona bark scorpion is not safe from the grasshopper mouse. New Scientist said, “It fights bravely, stinging its attacker on the nose. To no avail. The mouse ignores the painful venom and cruelly breaks the scorpion’s tail by pummelling it into the ground, then bites its head and feasts on its flesh.”

From virtually the day they are born, grasshopper mice are what New Scientist calls “natural killers.” Even baby mice, which are called pups, raised in captivity learn quickly how to take down and eat prey much larger than themselves.

Grasshopper mice don’t dig their own burrows, but take over burrows constructed by other mice and forcibly evict the original residents. When food is scarce, they will turn to other rodents for food, including mice of their own species.

And, like a wolf, the grasshopper mouse howls at the moon.

Scientists are interested in this species of mouse because of its imperviousness to the pain of scorpion stings. They hope to explore the mouse’s nervous system and thereby gain new insight into how pain is experienced and ways to block it in humans.

Watch video of the mouse howling, embedded via New Scientist, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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