Shrew opens a Roly poly

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I was out and about the neighborhood with the bug net when I happened upon a
trowbridge shrew, out hunting in broad daylight. I plucked it up in my net
and brought it home to photograph. I turned over a couple of pots which are
resting on chips  and of course came up with a bunch of those arthropod
creatures, Sow bugs or roly polys as I have called them since childhood. I
turned the shrew loose, and the shrew, like all shrews, was obviously hungry
and went after the bugs under the pot. After munching on something I did not
see, it turned to the largest roly poly and pounced on it. The RP rolled up
in a ball and the shrew, which I was watching closely through a camera lens,
grabbed the thing and rolled it around and around, almost as if it was a
basketball or something to play with. After about 15 seconds, the RP opened
up and the shrew crunched it. I was laying on my stomach, eye to eye and it
was astonishing how loud the crunching was  of the shrew eating the RP. By
the time the shrew finished, all the other RP's had left and the shrew moved
on and started nosing about. I turned over another pot, and found an
earthworm which I thought the shrew would go for, but it ignored this
wriggling live pasta and headed off into the leaf litter, its little  nose
plowing a furrow in the mulch as it searched. I followed it for about an
hour as it moved  into the woods, searching constantly under logs, leaves,
etc. Just as my knees were giving out the shrew came up with a centipede,
which the shrew deftly ate head  first, leaving the legs behind. After this,
the shrew disappeared under a log and it did not come out again, perhaps
dozing off.

Rob Sandelin
South Snohomish County at the headwaters of Ricci Creek
Sky Valley Environments  <>
Field skills training for student naturalists

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