SciSun: Even the all-you-can-eat buffet isn’t enough   Leave a comment

Have you ever been so hungry you thought you could eat and eat and eat and never get full? But then, much sooner than you expected, you are full and couldn’t stuff another forkfull into your mouth? (Except for dessert. There’s always room for dessert). The Desert Shrew (Notiosorex crawfordi) really can eat and eat and eat – in fact, it must because of its very high metabolism. If it stops eating for more than a short time, it could die. Not only does this make this shrew a particularly un-welcome guest at most buffets, but it also makes it very hard to live in the desert scrublands where these shrews are usually found, and where food isn’t exactly waiting anywhere you look. 

Waiter, last week I found a worm on my plate! I'd like that again today, please.

Luckily, the desert shrew will eat almost anything including worms, centipedes, termites, moths, beetles, sowbugs, flies, cockroaches, grasshoppers, larvae, and assorted dead birds, lizards and animals. As far as scientists can find, the shrews do not eat scorpions or salamanders. Everyone has their limits. They can even live on this, um, interesting diet without drinking water, as they get almost all the water they need from their food. So thank you, Mr Shrew, for eating all these things others don’t want. Somebody’s got to do it.

Want to learn more about shrews and other small animals that do important work but don’t get much glory?  Here are a few places to get started:

http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Soricomorpha/classification/

http://library.thinkquest.org/11353/food.htm

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/nwep11.htm

And there’s lots more information you can find at your local library!

Posted January 8, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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