When a Missouri fisherman hauled in a fish from his pond recently, he knew he had made a big catch, but he didn't know just how big.
As he was reeling in the largemouth bass from his parents' eight-acre pond, Monroe MacKinney was shocked by what he saw.
An eastern mole, commonly found throughout Missouri, appeared to be attempting to climb from the fish's mouth; however, MacKinney soon realized it was dead. He posted the image on his Instagram acccount, where it soon went viral. (Also see "Inside the Bizarre Life of the Star-Nosed Mole, World's Fastest Eater.")
"[The mole] scared me a little, went to take my lure [out] and [I] almost dropped the fish... thought it was a turtle," he wrote.
Commenters are perplexed by how the mammal came to be in the water in the first place. Moles live on land, spending most of their time digging tunnels and searching for food, such as earthworms and other underground insects.
It's a common misconception that moles are blind, but they do have poor eyesight and are frequently colorblind. They're adapted to live in low-oxygen environments underground. (Learn how a star-nosed mole can smell underwater.)
How It Happened
Dana Krempels, a senior lecturer at the University of Miami explained that this species of mole can swim, but they don't seek out rivers and lakes for habitat. "It wouldn't be too surprising for a large-mouth bass to prey upon a mole it happened upon," explained Krempels. "And since eastern moles don't mind swimming... well, there you go."She added, "Moles have very powerful forelegs, and if the poor little guy had not drowned, he might have been able to claw his way out of the fish." "My best guess is the heavy rains may have pushed him out, or a big bird like a hawk, great blue heron, or an eagle, which are all common in Missouri, dropped it in the water," he commented in response to questions on his Instagram account.
He added that he has observed large birds dropping rodents into the pond to entice fish to the surface. (Also see "One Fish Frozen While Eating Another—A Rare Discovery.")
Bass typically feed on smaller fish, however they have been known to be opportunistic feeders that also lunge for insects, amphibians, and small birds. Rather than biting their prey into chunks, bass swallow their catches whole.
A report funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that while bass eat to satisfy hunger, they may also grab prey reflexively when they sense movement.