We found a shrew on the drive the other day. Sadly, it was dead, though recently so. It looked slightly dented around the middle, fur a little ruffled, like something might have had it in its jaws, though there were no bite marks. I felt a pang of sorrow for its lost little life, such a perfect and gorgeous creature. I stroked its velvet fur a few times before we laid it to rest.
The shrew has secrets I didn’t know about: toxic saliva, -deadly enough to kill a rabbit- and powerful scent glands that give off an unpleasant odour, enough to cause a cat or fox to drop it, though sadly in this case, not saving its life. Apparently birds have little or no sense of smell, so birds of prey will be undeterred by this evolutionary defence mechanism.
The SPCA recently found an abandoned pine marten quite close to where we live, and a few weeks ago we saw a badger trundle across the road. I feel very privileged to live in a part of the country where these sightings are not uncommon. It’s easy to be impressed with these large, ‘sexy’ mammals, but we also get lots of little mammals in the garden: shrews, voles, mice and weasels, and I am equally impressed with their wile, and I am sure I will be impressed by the things about them I have yet to find out.
If you want to find out more about wildlife and share what wildlife you have seen look at ‘The Wild Outside‘ . The Scottish Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals can be found by clicking this link. See BBC Nature for additional information.
photo from BBC archives