AN astonishing clip shows a tiny but ferocious stoat fighting to the death with a huge rat in broad daylight.
Stoats are rarely seen at all so the walker who filmed the incident was amazed to watch the mortal struggle take place a few feet away.
The stoat, a member of the weasel family, is legendary for its aggression and has been known to take down and eat rabbits three times its own size.
But the creature filmed in rural Gloucestershire decided to pick on an animal that also has a reputation for viciousness.
Posted online by nature conservation charity, The Vincent Wildlife Trust, the clip has received almost 100,000 views and nearly 900 shares. Although the clip does not show the victory, it is believed the stoat finally got its meal.
At the start of the short film, the stoat can be seen on the road with the large rat hiding in the grass verge.
The feisty stoat then launches itself at the rodent which then makes a desperate attempt to flee from the predator.
The rat barely manages to get a metre away before the stoat is on top again and both end up rolling through the verge and onto the road.
The stoat appears to have the upper hand, pinning the rat down as it tries struggle free from the ruthless grip.
At one point in the video, the stoat is seen dragging the helpless rodent towards the verge as it appears to be defeated.
But determined not to be eaten, the rat fights back and even manages to the throw the stoat around in the grass.
The camera zooms in on the pair as they jump back onto the road and the brown coloured stoat with its black tipped tail is seen trying to bite the rat on the neck.
The footage cuts out just as the rat appears to be tiring and it is unclear who the eventual winner was.
Lizzie Croose, conservation officer for The Vincent Wildlife Trust caught the fight on film while out on a bike ride in Gloucestershire.
She said: “This was filmed in Gloucestershire, whilst I was out cycling!
“I didn’t see the outcome as shortly after I stopped filming, a car came along the road and the stoat and rat ran into the hedge.
“However, I later heard the rat squealing again so I think the stoat caught it again eventually.”
The Vincent Wildlife Trust posted the remarkable footage online with the caption: “Earlier this week, I was incredibly lucky to have a close sighting of a stoat predating a rat.
“Most of my sightings of stoats are fleeting glimpses as they dash across the road, so to see one at such close quarters, catching a rat, was very lucky!
“I managed to take this video on my phone, which shows what powerful and efficient predators stoats are; capable of catching prey much bigger than themselves!”
The clip has also gained nearly 200 comments, with many viewers expressing their amazement at the unusual film.
Caroleann Mc Callion [CORR] wrote: “Fierce little creatures. But look at the hard work for it’s meal!”
Gerry Ring replied: “Never ever saw anything like that before. Stoats are super,love them. Brilliant video.”
John Martin said: “Tremendous opportunist video. Natures finest protagonists! Nice one.”
Chris Proud commented: “I’ve seen terriers refusing to kill rats after being bitten, to think the stoat can kill a rat that bites as hard is unbelievable. Great video.”
During winter stoats are almost exclusively nocturnal and rarely seen, but in the summer months they can more active in the daytime.
The merciless stoat can grow up to 30cm in length and are found throughout the UK.
Their diet is known to mostly consist of small rodents birds, and occasionally rabbits according to Scottish Natural Heritage.