Poisonous shrew with an ancient lineage: solenodon

This is the most detailed writeup I could find by the researchers that captured the film footage: Detailed EDGE article

The Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus), a top EDGE species, is one of the world’s weirdest mammals. The two living solenodon species diverged from all other living mammals 76 million years ago, when dinosaurs still walked the earth. The Hispaniolan solenodon and its distant cousin, the Cuban solenodon, are the only two mammal species that can inject venom into their prey through specialized grooves in their teeth (the name “solenodon” means “grooved tooth”).


It weights 1 to 2 Lbs and is about 10 inches long. It has large claws and a long, whiplike tail. They call it an insectovore

As well as having a venomous bite, a solenodon has glands in the armpits and in the groin which give off a goat-like smell. It readily defends itself against one of its own kind and is apparently not immune to its own venom since animals have been seen to die after fighting and sustaining minor wounds. It also probably attacks other animals savagely judging from the way a captive solenodon attacked a young chicken and tore it to pieces with its strong claws, before eating it. In moments of excitement it may grunt like a pig or give bird-like cries, but when pursued it stays motionless and hides its head, so it can be easily picked up.

Source: Cuyaya

Did you know that the woodchuck and the groundhog are the same species? It’s true.

On the topic of shrews, I present Our Wonderful Nature

Sorry for the obscure link but the original youtube video is no longer available, and the film-maker’s website is not yet operational. The link I provided was working as of this morning.

Note: I highly reccommend watching at least 30 seconds of the linked video, it takes a while to get where its going :o.

Woo. That thing is ugly! But also cute. Strange.

Anyway, why do we need to conserve it exactly? Just to have some around?

Sounds a bit like El Chupacabra.

Well that was the strangest nature video I have seen in a while.

I don’t understand why an insectivore needs poison. Earthworms don’t fight back very vigorously, and red ants are too small to inject, I suspect.

I found a 1974 paper describing it as the “alpha predator” of this island which is kinda sad (i guess they forgot about the caiman.) I guess it could go after snakes and iguanas (which are roughly twice the size.)

Too bad it’s not of an unusual size.

To breed seventy-five pound versions of it to guard my lair?


Most venoms also play an important role in digestion, and in fact this may be its primary function in this case. Also, have you seen the size of the spiders on Haiti!


XP 15
Small poisonous critter Initiative +2
Senses Perception +5; low light vision
HP 1
AC 15; fortitude 10; reflex 15; will 12
Speed 6; climb 3

Bite (standard; at-will) *Poison
+6 vs AC; 1 damage

Alignment: Unaligned
Str 4 Dex 17 Wis 10
Con 9 Int 2 Cha 1

Actually that’s an interesting question. There are usually good reasons to conserve species because they have value (genetic value, ecological value, economic value, social value, medical value etc). But species that are on the verge of extinction? If these things are so critically endangered the consequences of losing them (or almost losing them) may already have been felt, and bringing them back may have lesser value than keeping them around in the first place.

But I don’t think we can start viewing conservation like that. After all, where do you draw the line? What species is worth saving if it doesn’t have any intrinsic value to humankind? Is that what we’ve descended to, morally? Who is to say that if we let a species disappear that we won’t regret it in the future. Perhaps its blood harbors a medical breakthrough for cancer? That last one is an old chestnut of an argument, but it’s still valid.

Perhaps we have the responsibility as caretakers of the planet, of all its various ecosystems, flora and fauna because we’re just not smart enough to decide yet what’s important and what isn’t. Perhaps we need to because, frankly, it was very probably us that led to its extinction (or near extinction) in the first place - in other words, it’s our mess and we need to clean up after ourselves.

From the thread title, I was thinking this was going to be about someone’s mother-in-law.

I’ll be here all week.

While not naturally strictly insectivores, my two tarantulas would take issue with this statement. As DemonkrazyGkrokSides has already indicated, the venom plays a role in digestion. So much so that in the unlikely even that either one might bite a human, they wouldn’t dare waste any venom in that bite. No sir, that is for digesting food.

Also, venom != poison.