Rainbow Trout Scarfs Down 20 Shrews
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska – researchers had only recently opened up a rainbow trout captured in this preserve and discovered in its stomach contents were twenty shrews. Shrews are from the family of Soricomorpha which are mammals and although they appear to be mice they are actually closer to moles and bear a distinct long mole-like snout.
On the Togiak Refuge’s Facebook page, a photo of the trout has been shared more than 700 times.
“How did so many shrews make it into one trout? It’s anyone’s guess,” the the post says. “But perhaps a nest by the river eroded, dumping all of the shrews into the water where this rainbow trout likely came away feeling like a lottery winner.”
Trouts are not too picky when it comes to food sources and have been observed to prey on different types of critters, but what was interesting about this particular fish is that it was only 19 inches in length. It’s not known over what period of time the fish caught its prey, but it was sufficiently short for them to not have digested.
Fish biologist Mark Lisac and his colleagues decided to see what was in the fish’s bulging belly and were stunned to pull out 19 shrews.
“I can’t say for certain that I’ve ever seen a well preserved shrew in a stomach analysis,” Lisac said. “No one ever thought they would pull 19 shrews out of it.”
One researcher reports that the previous record of most shrews consumed by a fish that is on record is seven. Those shrews were eaten by a grayling which fish is more particular about hunting shrews than the rainbow trout.
The researchers do not believe the trout hunted the shrews as much as feasted on a nest of them which drowned. Strictly speaking, shrews do not fare well in water and easily drown.
Lisac says it’s not uncommon for trout to eat small animals like shrews, but 19 could be a record.
“It may be surprising at how many fish actually do specialize in that, or it could have just been a freak event,” he said.
According to the the Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science blog said it may be interesting to understand why there were so many shrews.
“It would be interesting to look more into shrew ecology and see if there might be something else going on — a high density of shrews, or some shrew habit that trout have learned to exploit,” Cool Green Science’s Matt Miller wrote.
As Inquisitr points out, there’s no offical trout eating shrews record.
The researchers think some shrew’s habitat flooded and the trout took advantage of the moment.
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