What’s the toughest predator you can think of..?
How about an animal that can survive in and out of water, drill through almost anything and has a cocktail of enzymes that can turn your insides to mush, which is then sucked up whilst your still alive.
Sounds like a horror movie right? Well this predator exists and its called the Dog Whelk (Nucella Lapillus).
These tough little carnivores spend their lives in what’s known as the inter-tidal zone (the area of the rocky shore that is constantly either submerged or dry.
Their main prey are barnacles, muscles and winkles which they hunt constantly and without mercy.
When a dog whelk finds a juicy looking barnacle its tongue, coated with enzymes, bores through the tough outer shell. Once the enzymes have softened up the insides of its prey, it slowly sucks up the resulting soup. It can take up to three days for a dog whelk to feed on one barnacle.
As well as being tough predators, these guys know how to party. Every spring they congregate at the bottom of the shore for a massive orgy. The boys waggle their frankly impressive members at the girls, which drives them wild and prompts them to copulate. Incidentally the boys genitals are on the right side of the head.
The dog whelk is common to abundant on almost all rocky shores in Britain, as far west as Greenland, south as Gibraltar and north to the Arctic Circle.
Next time your thinking of tough predators, spare a thought for the Dog Whelk!