Trout Eats Shrews: Why Were 19 Shrews Found Inside A Rainbow Trout? [PHOTOS]

By Danny Choy on September 12, 2013 2:06 PM EDT

Researchers have known that trout eat shrews. When the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge of southweastern Alaska caught a couple of trout for tracking, they noticed a small trout in particular that featured a bloated belly. The bleeding trout was not going to survive.

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When fish biologist Mark Lisac and his colleagues opened the trout's organs, they discovered the fish had eaten an astonishing 19 shrews! "I can't say for certain that I've ever seen a well preserved shrew in a stomach analysis," said Lisac. "No one ever thought they would pull 19 shrews out of it."

Trout have been known to enjoy a diet of shrews and rodents like voles and mice. What's more, knowledgeable fishermen have been known to cut deer hair to look like mice as bait on their hook. According to Lisac, a grayling trout with seven shrews in its stomach was already an exceptional amount. However, the 19 shrews found inside a trout just over one-foot long is most likely a record.

"It may be surprising at how many fish actually do specialize in that, or it could have just been a freak event," commented Lisac.

Since the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge shared their image of the bizarre trout and the shrews, the image has been shared several hundred times and is easily the most popular post on the page.

"How did so many shrews make it into one trout? It's anyone's guess," the post wrote. "But perhaps a nest by the river eroded, dumping the shrews into the water where this rainbow trout likely came away feeling like a lottery winner."

Fishes must feed heavily during the summer to prepare for their winter hibernation. For rainbow trout, their diet consists of salmon eggs, insects, small fish, shrews, and rodents.

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