Chihuahuan grasshopper mouse (Onychomys arenicola) via Wikipedia (© American Society of Mammalogists )

When I first heard about the Grasshopper Mouse I thought that a mouse howling at the moon sounds like the premise for a fabulous children’s story. The reality of the creature though is hardly suitable for children as the Grasshopper Mouse is a carnivorous bully more suitable for the stuff of nightmares. They take over the burrows of other rodents instead of building their own and in times of scarcity even eat other rodents, including other Grasshopper Mice. They are probably also plague carriers for the prairie dog population due to the obscene amount of fleaspecies they carry.

But the most interesting thing about the Grasshopper Mouse is without a doubt their nervous system. They routinely eat poisonous snakes and Arizona Bark Scorpions, one of the most poisonous species of scorpion and seem to care nothing of the stings they get never mind that the sting is enough to cause painful muscle spasms and even trouble breathing in humans. The reason for this seems to be that Grasshopper Mice have a mutation that stops the pain signal from going all the way into their brain from the nerve cells that send it.