Mice are apparently on the menu for some trout in Nova Scotia, with fishermen discovering the rodents inside the bellies of fish they've caught.
Last month, Kristin Warner said he caught two brook trout with mice inside them while fishing at Newcombe Brook on Nova Scotia's eastern shore. One fish even had two in its stomach.
Warner said he's never seen anything like it in his 26 years of fishing.
"None of the people I talked to never heard of a 15-inch brook trout eating a three-inch mouse," he said. "I was surprised to see them in there, I thought it was different."
After posting his story to Facebook other fishermen chimed in with mice finds of their own.
Andrew Hebda, a zoologist with the Nova Scotia Museum, said it's rare to catch a trout with a mouse inside it, but the fish has been known to eat the rodent — and anything else it can grab.
"The basic element in the trout diet is if it will fit inside the mouth it will eat it," he said.
"Basically think of an eating machine — although we tend to think of them as the majestic trout — basically they're successful because they can feed on a whack of stuff."
Over the years, Hebda has found all kinds of bizarre things inside trout stomachs, including cigarette butts, tin foil, frogs and small birds.
Flooding could force mice into rivers
It's not just brook trout that will eat whatever comes across their path, according to Dalhousie University trout biologist Fred Whoriskey. He said brown trout and rainbow trout, which are also found in the province, would happily eat mice if they happened to find them in the water.
As for how those mice end up in the water in the first place, Whoriskey has a theory.
"A lof of these mice have burrows along the edges of river systems, and as the water level comes up in the spring melt and with the rainfall those burrows flood out," he said.
"The animals will be forced out, some of them fall into the river systems, and once they're in there they're prime prey for trout."
Hebda suggests the mice could also fall into the water after being chased by land predators or are gobbled up by trout when swimming across a body of water.
He said the mice would make a good meal for a trout, which can effectively digest every part of the rodent.
Mice-consuming trout are also safe for humans to eat, said Hebda, since the contents of the trout's stomach are discarded before the fish is prepared.
As for Warner, he isn't grossed out by the mice inside his trout and plans to eat the fish he caught.