Weasel woodpecker
March 4, 2015

Weasel takes a ride on a woodpecker

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - @ParkstBrett

It’s a weasel. On a woodpecker.

Now that #Llamadrama and #TheDress are distant memories (what were those about again?) – the latest Internet meme/social media sensation is this image, supposedly snapped by amateur photographer Martin Le-May from Essex in the United Kingdom.

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How it all went down

Le-May said that he was out on a nature walk with his wife when he heard shrieking out in a nearby field and, using binoculars, spotted what looked like a woodpecker. Just after getting out his camera equipped with a telephoto lens – the bird took flight and Le-May snapped a few pictures, including the one that eventually went viral.

“I think I realized there was something potentially special as I took the photograph – this idea that you’re almost snapping an image in your head as you take it,” Le-May recently told the BBC. “But it wasn’t really until we got home and I downloaded the photograph, connected the laptop to the TV and looked at it on the TV and thought: Actually, this really is something quite dramatic as well as a nice picture.”

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Le-May said he did suspect that there was some kind of small mammal on the bird’s back while out in the field. He said the tiny weasel probably ran off after the woodpecker landed.

"I think we may have distracted the weasel as when the woodpecker landed it managed to escape and the weasel ran into the grass,” the amateur photographer said.

Weasels might eat woodpeckers

Wildlife expert Lucy Cooke told the BBC that the photo is truly unusual.

"The green woodpecker is a ground-feeding bird, but weasels normally attack rabbits,” Cooke said. “The woodpecker is not its usual prey.”

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"But weasels are fearless,” she added. "A female weasel weighs less than a Mars Bar but is as ferocious as a lion, so this is why the woodpecker would have been able to take off with it on its back."

The cinnamon challenge

Internet memes or viral videos and images can be a great way to waste time or take a mental break from the work day, but sometimes the viral spread of internet memes can be a dangerous as an IRL communicable disease.

A study published in 2013 revealed that the highly-popular “cinnamon challenge” meme was actually somewhat dangerous and was responsible for an increase in choking and aspiration incidents.

The challenge involved people in online videos attempting to ingest a spoonful of cinnamon. The challenger typically coughs and hacks as the cinnamon is eventually spewed into a cloud of orange-brown dust.

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“I think the cinnamon challenge is something that has been around for some time; however, I don’t think we’ve really appreciated what the potential medical implications may be,” Kent Pinkerton, director of the University of California Davis (UCDavis) Center for Health and the Environment, said in a web video.

According to the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) related to the cinnamon challenge rose from 51 in 2011 to 178 calls in the first half of 2012.


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