Not long ago, one of my friends approached me to report a "mole" raiding her bird seed supply in the garage, and making a cache of the booty on a nearby shelf. This certainly didn't sound like the hijinks of any Eastern Mole that I've ever met, and I figured it was probably an even more interesting and little-known mammal.
As with the Meadow Vole I recently encountered, fate was not kind to our mystery seed-raider, but did intervene to allow us another learning experience. When I was quizzing the mole-person about field marks, she let on that the beast had expired. "What! You have it?" enquired I. And she did, so I convinced her to bring in the carcass, which has languished in the freezer until today, when I brought it out for photos.
And here it is - the mole-like thief of seed. This tiny little brute is a Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina brevicauda. They are surprisingly abundant throughout Ohio and the upper midwest. And as we shall learn, they are indeed poisonous, and I'm not making that up. Ridiculously hyperactive with a metabolism that races like a meteor, I think they sometimes essentially just blow up - their heart erupts. I've found them several times dead but in perfect shape, with no obvious signs of trauma.
Now, most of you are saying "Like, whatever. Like, he really thinks we think he owns that car, for sure. Like, whatever, dude".
That auger-like snout coupled with strong front legs and feet permit the shrew to rapidly and effectively bore through the earth in a frenzied nonstop hunt for victims to kill and devour.