Like some people, some animals are homebodies. They enjoy staying at home and never want to leave it. The three-toed sloth, for example, lives in the same tree its entire life.
But the gallivanting shrew is not such a creature. I’ve just spotted one of these small green rodents on the streets of New York City. I’m now following it into an office building, where it’s scurrying across the lobby and into a lift. What is it up to?
We arrive at the top floor. The shrew scampers out of the lift and up some stairs to the roof. The mouse-sized creature is standing dangerously close to the edge, fifty storeys above the ground. The shrew is waiting for its ride.
And here comes its ride: a ring-billed seagull. Incredible! The shrew has hopped onto the bird’s back. Where is it heading? Let’s unfold my portable glider, follow them and find out!
My name is Hickory Slick. Welcome to Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with Hickory Slick.
I am gliding over the Atlantic Ocean just behind the soaring seagull with the shrew on its back. The gallivanting shrew is perfectly designed to be an expert traveller. It has changed its fur colour to match the seagull’s grey feathers. This camouflage helps keep it safe from predators. The shrew’s feet have suction cups and sharp claws to grip onto any surface. It is lightweight and can hold its breath for hours. Yes, the gallivanting shrew is built to explore! Ah! The shrew has now leapt off the seagull’s back! I forgot to mention that the gallivanting shrew has a built-in parachute: it can spread its limbs wide to stretch out folds of skin which catch the air. Now our shrew is floating gently towards that cruise ship below. I’ll attempt a landing by the ship’s snack bar.
I landed in a vacationer’s bowl of hummus. My apologies, sir. Folding up my glider, I spot the shrew heading towards the ship’s piano lounge. The shrew spends the next three days as a stowaway. It nibbles on pretzels left by passengers and listens to show tunes in the lounge. I, as a good naturalist, do the same.
After three days, the ship docks in the Bahamas. The shrew darts onto land and I follow right behind. Where is the little creature going now?
Oh ho! It’s heading for the airport. It’s scurrying along the airstrip, probably looking for its next ride. I am crouching behind a luggage cart on the runway and can see the gallivanting shrew looking from side to side. It wants to make sure no one is watching it. Then...ZIP! It scampers into the private jet of Dirk Boswell, the famous actor!
How exciting! I had heard he was here in the Bahamas on holiday. I suppose I have no choice but to hide in the jet’s luggage compartment. Oof, it’s a tight fit. I wonder where Dirk, the shrew and I are flying to!
Nine hours later, I find out. We land in London’s Heathrow Airport! My legs are still stiff from the flight, but I run and grab a taxi to follow the shrew. The tiny creature snuck into Dirk Boswell’s limousine before it drove off.
It appears we’re all heading to a film studio, where Dirk is filming The Blunder Down Under. On the film set, Dirk is playing a dashing Australian explorer who was raised by koala bears. It’s a part I could have played, if only they had asked me. Hmm, where did the shrew disappear to now?
*CLANG! CLATTER! SMASH!*
Ah, there’s the little rascal. The shrew was hiding just inside Dirk’s shirt collar as they filmed an important scene. When Dirk noticed the shrew, he screamed.
Now the shrew has scampered away and hitched a ride on a golf cart. Where to, now?!
The golf cart has parked outside the film studio’s mailroom. The shrew slipped inside a package just before it was sealed and handed to the postman. If I twist my neck, I can see the address on the package.
“Murramarang National Park.”
Oh, heavens! The gallivanting shrew is going to...Australia?!
After flying to Australia and renting a jeep, I’ve made it to Murramarang National Park. All this travel is wearing me out! We’ve journeyed ten-thousand miles from London. But the shrew looks refreshed and thrilled as it rides in the pouch of a kangaroo here in Murramarang. The kangaroo hops towards a small colony of penguins on the beach. The shrew hops out of the kangaroo’s pouch and jumps onto the back of a penguin about to dive into the water. Now we will see how the shrew can hold its breath for a long time.
And, look over there: do you see that humpback whale jumping out of the water about one thousand metres from shore? I’ll bet that’s where the shrew is headed. Humpback whales are a favourite ride for the gallivanting shrew since they travel such long distances.
And, I was correct! I can see the shrew now jumping from the penguin’s back onto the whale’s back.
Now I am following the whale and shrew in my inflatable motorised raft and tracking them with my sonar device. I can tell the whale is headed for Japan.
And here we are. Amazing! The shrew has managed to get itself to the Tanegashima Space Centre. Do you see it, climbing aboard that rocket? The rocket is headed to the International Space Station, two hundred and fifty miles above the Earth! Like any good naturalist, I must smuggle on board the rocket to follow the shrew.
With the rocket engines igniting below me, I’ll have to end this episode now. Oh dear, I hope I can find a way back from outer space!
This has been Hickory Slick. Tune in next time for Hickory Slick’s Weirdlife...with me, Hickory Slick.