Monday, December 13, 2010

Creature Feature: Grasshopper Mouse.

Mice have a good reputation in pop culture. People love rooting for the little guy, and mice are among the littlest guys there are. Only mean, nasty animals like cats, hawks and snakes eat them. Whether you are scared or fond of mice, they are generally harmless creatures, and we root for the rodents when they get in the room with a cartoon cat. They're innocent.

Except for one genus.

Mice of the genus Onychomys are the eccentric cousins of the common house mouse. There are three species spread variously across the Americas, and they are all weirder than your average mouse. Hell, they're pretty weird by rodent standards, nutrias included.

"What? That looks like a pretty normal mouse."

Yes, it looks like a normal mouse. It's a little bigger and has longer claws, but why should that make any difference? Nutrias are bigger than most rodents, but even they're gentle herbivores that only look menacing. It's not like real-life-Raticate's huge yellow teeth will bite your hand off.

Grasshopper Mice are different. Beneath that cute exterior beats the heart of a cold-blooded killer. Don't believe me? Watch this:

I think that might even be a remixed Grasshopper Mouse howl in the background...

Grasshopper Mice are the only purely carnivorous rodents. They eat anything from bugs (such as grasshoppers) to snakes to even other mice. (There's a video of that, by the way; not for the faint of heart.)  They have evolved immunities to snake, spider, and scorpion venom, as well as ways of dealing with said creepy crawlies that makes Saw look like Barney. Tearing off a scorpion's tail and claws like that is vaguely like a human in a bulletproof vest tearing off your limbs even though you can't do anything to him anyways. Holy fuck; this cuddly critter just put Mighty Mouse to shame.

The Grasshopper Mouse has been called "Chuck Norris." Be very afraid, mouse-in-tights.

Grasshopper mice also howl. After a successful kill or to claim territory, a Grasshopper Mouse will let out a shrill call that is probably what a wolf howl would sound like if the Chipmunks got at it.  Click here for a video of this; YouTube has several 'modified' howls, including a Mexican soccer call. The real howl is actually pretty cool, and cements that this really is a wolf in mouse's clothing.

And you thought the Killer White Rabbit was bad. 

Screw the mongoose when it comes to snake removal. I want the mouse that thinks it's a wolf.

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