We’ve all perused pet store aisles, staring into the glass jail cells that house some of the cutest animals imaginable. Especially those tiny mice. They spend all day running on that endless wheel and messing about in their cages with one another. Surely, they couldn’t hurt a fly, right?
As it turns out, the grasshopper mouse actually loves killing and eating other animals, including other rodents! You probably won’t find them for sale at your local PetSmart, but the more you learn about them, the more fascinated you’ll become.
So, here’s a riddle that’ll leave everyone scratching their heads: What do you get when you cross a mouse and a grasshopper? Now, at first, this question seems ridiculous, but there’s a very real answer.
It’s a grasshopper mouse! If you were picturing a half-grasshopper half-mouse looking mutant creature, this isn’t it. They look just like regular mice, but these animals are anything but ordinary.
Living mainly in the Sonoran desert, grasshopper mice are set apart from other rodents by one very distinguishable fact: They’re the only carnivorous mouse living in North America. That’s right, these things feed on meat.
They have a variety of prey they hunt, and they’re really good at making a kill, even with animals known to put up a vicious fight. One of their favorite meals is something truly spine-tingling.
Giant centipedes! Most people can’t even look at these creepy crawlies without shivers running under their skin, and it’s easy to see why. However, grasshopper mice stare these insects in the face totally fearless.
Now, the reason most mice are terrified of giant centipedes is because their pincers are equipped with a toxin that causes muscle and respiratory failure. Most of the time the toxin reigns supreme.
The centipedes, of course, aren’t aware that when they step up to the plate for a tussle with a grasshopper mouse they’re in for a losing battle. The mouse’s awareness of the poison is what helps it conquer the insect.
It will actually attack the centipede from a distance until it’s mortally wounded. Then, it goes in for the kill. But, centipedes aren’t the only dangerous creatures grasshopper mice hunt.
These seemingly innocent balls of fur actually challenge scorpions to brawls, and they win! Amazingly, the mice have a complete resistance to scorpion venom, which renders an attack useless. But even more bizarre is the rodents’ cannibalism.
These vicious warriors will actually kill and eat other rodents. This is actually a pretty frequent occurrence, and the aggression is trained into the pups by their fathers at a young age.
Just take a look at this page from a nature magazine. The animals are almost made to look like monsters, but if you scan the facts, they do have terrifying qualities.
Grasshopper mice are have even been featured on the news because of their insane ability to withstand scorpion toxins. Anyone who makes it onto television is a big deal, and these animals are exactly that. Take their adaptable approach to housing, for example…
The mice live in four different kinds of burrows: nesting, retreat/sleeping, storing, and bathrooms. Now, the grasshopper mice have the ability to build these burrows themselves, but sometimes they just take them over from smaller, weaker rodents instead.
A male mouse will eventually find a female mouse, and the pair will rule with an iron fist. They’ll scour the land looking for burrows or animals to fight off, and they cover a startling amount of territory.
A single pair of grasshopper mice can dominate up to 28 acres of land! Can you believe that? Two little rodents can induce that much fear into other creatures.
This is footage of a warrior prepping to go into battle and take no prisoners, for that’s the grasshopper mouse way. They even communicate with audible sounds that are like something out of a horror movie.
Just like werewolves, grasshopper mice howl! They call out in sounds similar to a miniature version of a coyote over acres of space to let others know not to enter their territory.
Just look at this little guy belting out a howl in front of a full moon. It really does look like a screenshot from a Stephen King movie. Fortunately, these guys are only a few inches long.
Grasshopper mice don’t pose a threat to humans, but if you were a rodent and you crossed paths with one, you better be on your guard. However, there is one story of a rodent and human with a deadly ending.
Ten-year-old Aidan Pankey loved animals all his life. Ever since he could remember, he wanted one to call his own. That’s why he was over the moon when his grandmother presented him with an unexpected gift…
While his grandmother was walking down the aisles of Petco one afternoon, she came across an animal she felt Aidan would absolutely love. She immediately made the purchase and brought it home to him.
It was a pet rat! Aidan’s grandmother bought the little guy knowing her grandson would just adore the friendly rodent. The surprise left Aidan overjoyed, and he immediately named the rat “Alex.”
Aidan and Alex were instantly inseparable. Aidan made sure to take exceptionally good care of his new friend, and he treated him like a new member of the family. They did everything together, too.
Wherever Aidan went, his trusty new pal followed right along. Aidan’s grandmother seemed to know exactly which rat to buy, too. Alex was incredibly friendly and seemed to enjoy all the activities he and Aidan did.
Aidan even took Alex along with him when he went swimming! They became the best of friends right off the bat, and Aidan’s parents and grandmother couldn’t have been happier with the new addition to their family. Plus, Aidan wasn’t the only family member to embrace Alex…
The rest of Aidan’s family loved Alex just about as much as Aidan did. Just take a look at this picture of Aidan with his father and grandfather. Alex was having a great time hanging out on Grandpa’s shoulder!
For the two weeks, the boy was nothing but smiles from morning to night. A pet like Alex was exactly what he needed in his life. However, Aidan’s family would soon realize just how dangerous this new pal actually was…
Two weeks after Aidan’s grandmother purchased Alex from Petco, Aidan fell sick. He had an upset stomach, fever, and chills. His parents took him to the doctor, where he was diagnosed with the flu. He was sent home with orders to drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.
Even though Aidan followed the doctor’s orders, his fever rapidly grew worse throughout the night. His parents eventually rushed him to the hospital—but it was too late. Tragically, Aidan passed away shortly after arriving. What had happened to this bright-eyed boy?
As it turned out, Aidan didn’t actually have the flu at all. The boy was suffering from rat-bite fever, which he contracted from his new pet. Rat-bite fever is characterized by severe, flu-like symptoms, and it can be passed to humans through scratches or bites. In rare cases, like Aidan’s, it’s deadly.
The incident with Aidan garnered a lot of media attention. His parents decided to sue Petco—which they believed to be responsible for Aidan’s death—for $20 million in damages. Petco, however, was ready for the case.
In a massive court case, the Pankeys’ lawyer (left) argued Petco was negligent and sold them a diseased rat. However, Petco’s lawyer (right) claimed the family was made well aware of the dangers the rat might pose before the purchase.
According to the store, anyone who buys a rat must sign a waiver acknowledging they understand it could possibly be infected with rat-bite fever. Aidan’s grandmother put her signature on the document, which meant she legally accepted the risks.
Unfortunately, the court eventually sided with Petco. The jury determined the family was well-enough informed of the dangers Alex potentially posed, and Petco was found to be not at fault for his death. The Pankey family was, understandably, devastated.
No parent should ever have to bury their child, and Aidan’s parents had to say goodbye to their son before he ever got to fully experience the wonderful life that was ahead. Aidan’s family would never forget how happy their son was for those two weeks prior to his passing.
Anyone thinking about welcoming a rodent into their homes—even one purchased at a reputable pet store—should consider the decision carefully. Rat-bite fever may be rare, but this unfortunate story is a reminder that many risks are simply not worth taking.
Aidan Pankey would always be remembered for his enthusiasm and fun-loving spirit. What happened to him after he adopted his pet rat, Alex, was completely an accident, but heartbreaking all the same.
Thankfully, not every new pet that joins a family ends in such tragedy. This unique little boy’s case actually proves that an animal can sometimes help a child live…
Bringing a rescue dog—especially one that’s been abused—into your home can be a very nerve-racking prospect. You can’t help but worry that the dog might instinctively resort to aggressive behavior, and Linda Hickey knew this feeling all too well.
Linda and her husband, Grant, lived with their two sons and dogs in Johns Creek, Georgia when they considered bringing a new puppy into the family— this time a rescue dog. The puppy had a traumatic story and Linda worried if a packed house was the ideal place for a once-abused pooch.
Xena The Warrior Puppy / Youtube
Complicating matters further, the couple’s youngest son, Jonny, had been diagnosed with autism before his first birthday. “He wasn’t reaching his milestones,” Linda said. They would not only have to worry about how the puppy would react, but also how their son would react.
Xena The Warrior Puppy / Youtube
The parents knew all too well the anxiety that came with introducing anything new—let alone an abused animal—to the family. How could she make an adoption work? Would it just become one more thing that would aggravate Jonny?
“I couldn’t even order cold cuts at the deli counter,” Grant added. “I’d roll up to the deli counter and say, ‘give me a half pound of this, a half pound of that,’ and Jonny would just start screaming.” Obviously, it was a delicate situation.
Still, Linda had fallen in love with the little pit bull, aptly named Xena the Warrior Puppy. She’d been watching the nightly news when images of the abused pup appeared on the screen. At that time, authorities were on the lookout for those who had hurt the poor dog.
Xena the Puppy Warrior / YouTube
The broadcast mentioned a Facebook page for Xena, and Linda headed there right away. “I would pray for her at night and first thing in the morning… I would sign in [to Facebook] to see if she had made it through the night.” There was no denying it: Linda was in puppy love!
Linda wasn’t the only one concerned about the puppy’s future. Chrissy Kaczynski—founder of Friends of Animals—was one of the pooch’s caretakers. “In all the years that I have been doing rescue,” she said, “I have never seen a puppy in that same condition.”
Xena kept fighting, and with medicine, rest, and love, her health greatly improved. “She just got better and better every day and just became more of a regular puppy,” Chrissy said. Soon, she’d be ready to leave intensive care and find a forever home—and Linda jumped at the chance.
“After talking to Linda, we decided that they would be the best home if it would work out with them,” Chrissy confirmed. But how would this once-abused puppy and the family’s autistic son get along? There was only one way to find out…
It was decided that Linda would host Xena for a trial visit. Thankfully, Xena couldn’t contain her excitement! When Grant came home for lunch, Xena was there to plant a smooch right on his face. But the real test—Jonny—was still at school.
The family already had several dogs, and Jonny paid zero attention to them. As his dad put it, “It was as if they [Jonny and the dogs] were in parallel worlds,” that never intersected. Would the boy behave similarly with Xena? And would another dog be too many?
It was time for the moment of truth. With Xena in tow, Linda drove to Jonny’s school to pick him up. “He couldn’t believe it,” she said, stunned. “It was a complete surprise: she’s lickin’ him all over his face, and he’s smiling ear to ear.” It appeared that the two bonded instantly!
Their friendship only became stronger from there. Later that evening, Linda caught Jonny reading to Xena in the family room. “We’ve spent thousands of dollars on therapy,” she said. “That was the best therapy standing on four legs in the family room.”
Linda had been so worried, but Xena was, as Chrissy put it, “a great example of how so many [pit bulls] can endure such great abuse and become absolutely remarkable family dogs.” Incredibly, Xena’s affection for Jonny did more than just give him a friend…
Thanks to his newfound friendship, the once unbelievably shy Jonny started to open up! Now when Grant and Linda brought him to the grocery store, he wanted to go inside. That was a far cry from the kid who would throw fits at the deli counter!
Everything in Jonny’s life was controlled for him, but with Xena, he was regularly chopping up food and feeding the dogs all on his own. As his anxiety decreased, his opportunities to engage in the world around him increased. And it was all thanks to Xena!
In fact, Jonny’s behavior improved beyond just his willingness to go into the supermarket. Before Xena, he’d only had “bad” and “okay” days at school; with his new pet, he started having great days—and he was even named superstar of the week!
The duo shared their camaraderie with the world in a YouTube video that raised awareness about a canine’s effects on autism. In the video, Jonny said “we make a good team to spread the word,” but that might’ve been an understatement!
Xena’s effects on Jonny didn’t go unnoticed; for all she did, the ASPCA recognized her as their “Dog of the Year” in 2013! Not only did adopting Xena save the dog, but it saved Jonny, too!