| Polar Shrew |
14/95, Shrew Plague
|Size||Tiny (90 cm)|
|Diet||Carnivore (Woolly Azelak)|
|Reproduction||Sexual, live births, two sexes, pouch and milk|
|Descendant of||Ancestor of|
With the evolution of the woolly shrew, the were shrew was pushed almost to extinction. Its cousin was just too good at hunting, since it had evolved the fur for insulation, freeing their bodies for running. This pushed the remaining were shrews north, to the harsh habitat of the North Tundra. To survive here, the Were Shrew had to evolve quickly. The biggest problem was the cold weather, as the Shrews could just about survive on dead animal matter. The ones who survived were the biggest and the fattest shrews: these are called polar shrews and have replaced their ancestor. They lost their tails and their bodies became shorter and more compact.
Despite the thick layers of blubber, the difference in body shape means the polar shrew is capable of short bursts of energy. It therefore uses its usual hunting method of crouching and waiting for prey to appear then charging after it and usually knocking it out in one go. Its primary prey is the woolly azelak. Young, old and sick individuals are the targets, but a large male polar shrew might attempt to tackle a fully grown azelak though it is always a risk.
Because of this, their breeding has changed: females want to breed with the strongest and fittest males, so during the mating season, males will try and take down the biggest and strongest azelak they can find. They then secrete a hormone from a new scent gland that has evolved at the end of their nose. The females use their strong sense of smell to pick up this special hormone that tells them a male is ready for inspection. A female will check the size and health of the dead azelak and then decide if she is to mate with the male. The bigger the azelak, the more likely the female will mate with the killer, thus ensuring her offspring have has power.
The female will give birth to between one and three offspring and in times when there is no food, she will eat all but one of her babies to keep herself going and keep producing milk for the last youngster. If she still cannot find food she will cut her losses and eat the last youngster. Her maternal instincts last until her young are around two years old and will then leave them.