Which Of These Small Mammals Paralyzes Its Prey And Stores It For Later Consumption?
Your experience with moles is likely limited to irritation that they are tunneling in your yard and making a mess. What you may not realize, due to blissfully not being an earthworm, is that moles are predators with a hunting style straight out of a horror movie.
Moles don’t dig their long and winding subterranean runs in search of food, like miners digging for gold. Instead, they dig their long runs to serve as extensive traps for worms. The moles are so sensitive to vibrations in their tunnels that they can detect a single worm falling from the roof of a run to the bottom and will scurry with incredible speed to go snatch it up.
While they sometimes eat the worm as soon as they find it, most of the time they descend upon it, grab it with surprising dexterity, pull and “milk” the worm between their paws to force the worm castings out of it, and then lick it. Why lick it? The moles have a paralytic compound in their saliva that turns the worm into a living food store which they then stash in well-stocked underground larders—researchers have found such larders with over a thousand worms stored for a rainy day.
So no matter how awful your week might have been so far, you can at least be thankful that a giant creature isn’t going to bear down on you while you’re walking into work, scoop you up, lick you until you’re paralyzed, and then shove you in their pantry to wait for your time as a future midnight snack.
Image courtesy of Didier Descouens.