It isn’t uncommon for a trout to eat shrews but researchers were pretty shocked to find nearly 20 of the small rodents in the belly of a rainbow trout.
Mark Lisac, a fish biologist at the refuge, said that the find was strange for a few reasons.
For one, the trout was only about 19 inches long which means that the fish was literally stuffed to the gill with shrews. Secondly, where did the trout find all of these shrews? Lisac said that it isn’t uncommon for a trout to eat a shrew but added that the mice meals usually come along in ones or twos.
Lisac believes that a group of shrews must have been on an island that flooded.
Lisac said: “(That’s) an awful lot for one fish to put down… My best guess is that the shrews were on an island [or river bank] that flooded, and the rainbow happened to be in the right spot at the right time.”
There’s no official shrew eating record for trouts but Lisac believes that the fish caught in the Alaska refuge would definitely be a contender in championship eating. The fish biologist said that the most shrews he’s ever found in a fish belly was seven.
Trent Sutton, a fisheries biologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that trout are “opportunistic eaters” who will enjoy a meal anytime they get a chance. Trout will also feast in the summertime while food is readily available.
Sutton said: “Top predators, like trout, have large distensible stomachs that allow them to consume large prey items or a lot of smaller items.”