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Venomous animals in Poland. The second poisonous mammal in our country. It’s a velvet shrew

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The velvet shrew, a small mammal known in Poland, among others, which can be found in gardens, forests and meadows, contains venom that damages red blood cells. This makes it easier for her to hunt and therefore she can avoid starvation. Polish scientists who made the discovery reported that it is the second poisonous mammal in our country.

The production of venom among mammals is rare. Examples of these animals include the Australian platypus, which has venomous spines on its hind legs. The North American short-tailed shrew, also known as the short-tailed shrew, kills insects with the venom contained in its saliva. Small insectivorous mammals from Cuba and Haiti called almics also have venomous saliva.

The small river thistle living in Poland (Neomys fodiens), also from the shrew family, thanks to its poisonous saliva, it can kill an animal larger than itself. Its venom has a strong paralyzing effect, which allows the victim to be immobilized and “kept” in a coma.

The velvet shrew is the second poisonous mammal in Poland

Until now, water thistle was considered the only poisonous mammal living in our country. Polish scientists have discovered, however, that the velvet shrew is also common in our country (Sorex araneus), which is a small mammal weighing five to 15 grams. Since the shrew feeds around the clock, eating almost as much as it weighs, mostly insects and other invertebrates, it needs additional hunting opportunities. If he cannot eat, he dies within 10 hours.

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As early as 400 years ago, there were suggestions in the literature that shrews were poisonous, but later researchers found them unfounded.

Now, scientists have taken an extract from the salivary glands of the small river ciliate and the velvet shrew to check the effect of the venom contained in the sample on the red blood cells (erythrocytes) of frogs of the genus Peophylax.

As it turned out, under the influence of the shrew’s saliva, a strong haemolysis occurred, i.e. the transfer of hemoglobin to the plasma as a result of the destruction of erythrocytes. Due to their venomous nature, allowing them to hunt larger prey (such as small frogs, young mice, and even other shrews), it is easier for velvet shrews to avoid starvation.

Velvet shrewShutterstock

“Much more widespread than it is supposed”

As the authors of the article published on June 7 in the journal Zoological Letters comment, “it is likely that the production of venom in shrews and other insectivorous mammals (Eulipotyphia) is much more widespread than expected. ”

The authors of the study are Krzysztof Kowalski from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń and Paweł Marciniak and Leszek Rychlik from the Adam Mickiewicz University.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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