11 January 2013
by Sara Reardon
Species: Onychomys torridus
Habitat: The arid badlands of south-western US and adjacent regions of Mexico, in burrows stolen from other rodents
In the dark expanses of the Sonoran desert in the US, a terrifying creature stalks the night, searching for fresh meat. Anything will do: crickets, rodents, tarantulas – the nastier the better.
Even the poisonous scorpion cannot escape the savage monster’s little pink paws. 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. Throwing its head back, the murderous animal howls at the moon.
No, it’s not the mythical Chupacabra. It’s the southern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus), the only carnivorous mouse in North America. Its unique biology and resistance to scorpion venom may one day help researchers treat human pain disorders. But for now, it’s just after blood.