I saw one of these vicious little buggers in the back yard last night and it reminded me how close my dog came to losing her nose when she disturbed one once. I yanked her away just as the venom-coated fang bit the air where her nose had just been.
They are weird rodents. In proportion to us, we’d have to consume 195 lbs of food a day to survive. They eat constantly and it’s estimated that if they don’t eat for an hour they die. In the winter millions of them just expire. They can’t hibernate and their lifespan is just 18 months–two years so in the Fall/Winter they die to give the next generation a fighting chance with what resources remain. They can paralyze (and kill) with their venom and have been known to keep their prey alive for a week before they eat it.
Watch one take on a non-venomous garter snake. Makes me wonder if the reason I see so few snakes is because I have these critters instead?
More at Wikipedia.