The shrew is a tiny mammal belonging to the Soricidae family. This family has 376 species, which are classified into 26 genera. Although the shrew resembles a mouse with its long, pointed snout, it is not a rodent. Shrews are found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia. They are capable of surviving in a variety of environments, including forests, rainforests, grasslands, tropical and temperate land masses. The shrew is one of the Earth’s first placental animals, having evolved fifty million years ago. Certain shrew species are threatened with extinction as a result of habitat loss.
Interesting Shrew Facts:
1. Shrews come in a variety of sizes. The smallest animal on Earth is the Etruscan Shrew, which is 1.3 inches in length and weighs 0.07 ounces. The majority of shrews grow to be between 2.5 and 9.5 inches long and weigh up to 3.5 ounces.
2. The majority of shrews are terrestrial creatures. Some of them are found on both the ground and in trees. Certain species of shrew are semi-aquatic and they are found living near water. Those that live near water have stiff hairs on their feet that enable them to “run” over the water’s surface by trapping air bubbles.
3. Shrews are coated with fur that ranges in color from brown to gray. The fur is short, soft, and dense.
4. Shrews eat mostly insects, but also worms, fish, frogs, seeds, and nuts. It is also capable of killing creatures bigger than itself, such as many species of rodents. Shrews benefit farmers by eradicating insects, snails, and other pests from their crops.
5. Although the shrew is classified as a nocturnal mammal (active at night), it is really active throughout both day and night.
6. The shrew has the quickest metabolic rate of any animal known to science (even higher than hummingbird). Due to their high energy requirements, shrews must feed virtually continuously throughout the day and night. A little period of food restriction (half a day) results in the shrew’s death.
7. Shrews have an astonishing heart rate of 700 beats per minute.
8. An abrupt disturbance, such as thunder, might terrify shrews to death.
9. Shrew’s vision is weak, but it has a strong sense of smell and hearing. The last two senses aid the shrew in locating food and avoiding predators. Shrews are also very intelligent creatures. Their brains account about 10% of their whole body weight.
10. Shrews are often killed by other animals but are seldom eaten afterwards due to the pungent musk released by the gland on their belly, which is repellent to the majority of animals.
11. The shrew is a rare poisonous animal. The grooves in their teeth are used to transmit poisonous saliva to their opponents (or prey). The venom of the American short-tailed shrew is lethal enough to kill 200 mice.
12. Shrews are solitary creatures (they live alone) that are only observed in groups during mating season. During the non-breeding season, the shrew actively drives away other shrews from its area.
13. Shrews attain sexual maturity rather quickly – between three to four months after birth. Those that live in tropical locations often mate throughout the year. Shrews that live in temperate climates abstain from reproducing during the frigid winter months.
14. Pregnancy lasts around 17 to 32 days. Females are capable of having up to ten litters every year.
15. Shrews have a brief lifespan of between 12 and 30 months.