A look at the Common Shrew

A look at the Common Shrew


Posted 25th October


Image courtesy of Paul Adams

A small and insectivorous mammal that has tiny eyes and a large nose that provides a keen sense of smell, shrews live life in the fast lane. They will frantically snuffle through the undergrowth for their prey, which includes earthworms, spiders and chrysalises. Found in most habitats, they prefer woodland and grassland areas.

They can be found out and about both by day and night, and are very territorial and aggressive for their size. They can sometimes be heard fighting, with their high-pitched squeaks particularly noticeable during the summer months.

Adults will typically only live for a year, just long enough to have three or four litters of roughly six young.

How to identify them

Shrews can be distinguished from mice and voles by their tiny eyes, very small ears and pointy faces. The Common Shrews are larger than Pygmy Shrews, but their tails will only be half the length of their body - in comparison the Pygmy Shrew tail will be two-thirds the length of its body.

Typically dark brown on the back, they have chestnut-coloured sides and are grey or silver underneath.

Where to find it

Widespread, they will be found everywhere except for the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

How to help them

Common Shrews are prevalent, but the loss of our hedgerows, field margins and other habitats do pose a potential threat to them. Pesticides will also affect these small creatures, building up in the food chain and, subsequently, their prey. Working with farmers and landowners to ensure wildlife-friendly practices, The Wildlife Trusts are looking to create a Living Landscape, a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across towns and country, and are good for both wildlife and people.

Information and text courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts





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