Hitching a Ride – In-Flight Flight


The carnivorous least weasel typically attacks large prey, such as rabbits, mice, frogs, and birds. The European green
woodpecker often leaves itself vulnerable to attack because it forages on the ground for ants.

At first glance, fur and feathers appear to have forged an incredible friendship in this photograph. The weasel hitches a ride on the woodpecker’s back as they soar the skies together. In reality, this picture catches on camera the ultimate airborne animal attack.

In 2015 amateur photographer Martin Le-May shot this image in Hornchurch Country Park, London, UK, but the picture doesn’t tell the full story. The weasel attacked the woodpecker and refused to give up, even when the bird took flight. An aerial scrap ensued before the weasel tumbled and the woodpecker escaped.

Fast Facts

The least weasel is the world’s smallest carnivore. Measuring only 11–26 cm (4.3–10.2 in) and weighing as little as 25 g (0.9 oz), it has been known to kill prey up to 10 times its weight. It is found throughout North America, Europe, and parts of Asia.

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