The sea mouse (Aphrodita aculeata) is an aquatic worm that has absolutely nothing to do with rodents. The only links between the sea mouse and the little furry rodent is the general shape of the body, along with the bristle coverings that somewhat resemble fur. In terms of diet, the carnivorous creatures are scavengers to the core.
The sea mouse is a type of worm within the class Polychaeta. Not only do the worms share a very superficial resemblance with mice, they also move in a way that is reminiscent of the wee rodents -- especially when they slowly crawl around and burrow on the quest for sustenance. The wide bristle worms reside in muddy and gritty sea bottoms, and often emerge on shore locales in the midst of low tide or right after big storms.
The sea mouse is a truly carnivorous worm, and the bulk of its dietary intake comes from the carcasses of animals. The sea mouse generally looks for creatures that are already dead, or that are already very weakened and in the process of dying. Sea mice are true scavengers. When sea mice consume their prey, they do so in one fell swoop as a whole, starting from the top of the prey's body. The sea mouse has the ability to successfully feed on animals that are around three times larger.
The sea mouse is a skilled predator that goes after a wide array of different polychaetes. Apart from consuming mostly other species of worms, the sea mouse also eats a lot of hermit crabs, as well as youthful crabs. However, the bulk of the worm's diet comes from fellow worms, particularly terebellids, sabellids and nemerteans.
Sea mice are carnivores that eat the remnants of a lot of other living things, and in reverse, many living things also feed on sea mice. Some common predators of sea mice include benthic fish and cod. Benthic fish are particularly threatening to sea mice of smaller size. However, the bristly outer appearance of the sea mouse sometimes serves as a deterrent to other animals.
- World Register of Marine Species: Aphrodita aculeata Linnaeus
- Marlin: BIOTIC Species Information for Aphrodita aculeata
- Earth Life Web: The Polychaetes
- Marlin: Sea mouse - Aphrodita aculeata
- LHS Virtual Zoo: Aphrodita aculeata
- University of California Museum of Paleontology: Introduction to the Polychaeta
- National University of Singapore: Polychaetes - The Marine Worms
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images