Baby weasel takes a magical ride on woodpecker’s back

A Premiere Daily Highlight Story: Sometimes there are tales that are just too good, too beautiful, or too miraculous to keep locked away. That’s why we scour the archives and bring some of them back to enjoy again. They may amaze you, make you smile or even shed a tear, but they’re always meant to add a little something to your day. Enjoy!

Small baby animals can make for some adorably cute pictures. They are not always easy to catch, and the best shots are often one in a million. Take this adventurous weasel, for example, the little critter went viral back in 2015 and is still putting people’s jaws on the floor. At first glance, it looked like a baby weasel was on a magical ride straight out of a fairy tale. But there was more to the picture than met the eye!


Martin Le-May, an amateur photographer from Essex was on a walk, in east London’s Hornchurch County Park. Ann, his wife, was accompanying him. In the middle of the walk, the squawk of a bird came to his ears. Martin soon found the source of the squawking – a baby weasel riding on the back of a woodpecker. Here’s the scene:

The baby weasel on the back of the woodpecker
Image credits: Martin Le-May

It Was Far From Magical For The Baby

In an interview with the BBC, Martin said that he got his camera ready as soon as he saw the extraordinary scene. He had not realized what the baby animal was at first. However, the bird’s squawking clearly indicated that it was in some severe distress.

Martin’s presence most probably disturbed whatever was happening. He explains:


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 woodpecker flying close to the ground
Image Credits: Martin Le-May

So, what exactly was going on that made Martin say the woodpecker “escaped”? The baby weasel was actually trying to choke the woodpecker. Weasels are extremely brave critters, as Lucy Cooke, an expert on wildlife, puts it.

The woodpecker in the picture is a green woodpecker. It is a bird that gets its prey and nutrition from the ground. However, rabbits are the usual prey of weasels, not woodpeckers. As such, the picture amazed even the experts.

Read: Photographer ‘Accidentally’ Captures Incredible Photos of a Brilliant Green Meteor


Weasels Are Ferocious

Cooke explains that weasels are very light and small. However, their ferocity can match that of a lion. As such, the woodpecker understandably could not shake the baby weasel off even as it took flight.

the woodpecker landing
Image Credits: Martin Le-May

Martin says that the struggle between prey and predator had continued for some minutes even after the woodpecker landed on the ground. But, eventually, the bird managed to fly off, and the weasel went back into the grass.

Steve Backshall, a wildlife presenter, said that such hunts are not impossible and there has been documentation about it. He said that the woodpecker is a very strong bird too, similar to rhino beetles and cutter ants. Rhino beetles can carry a weight 850 times that of their bodies.


In the same vein, Steve explained that weasels are equally fascinating. These small critters can hunt animals that are way bigger than themselves.

Nevertheless, even though the picture actually shows a life-and-death struggle and not a magical fantasy ride, it is still one of the rarest of its kind. At the time, the picture had thousands of retweets, leaving Martin proud of his image.

Keep Reading: Nearly Frozen ‘Slurpee Waves’ Captured On Camera By Photographer


  1. Weasel photographed riding on a woodpecker’s back.” BBC. March 3, 2015
Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected]