The shrew (family Soricidae) is a small mole-like mammal classified in the order Eulipotyphla. True shrews are not to be confused with treeshrews, otter shrews, elephant shrews, or the West Indies shrews, which belong to different families or orders.
Although its external appearance is generally that of a long-nosed mouse, a shrew is not a rodent, as mice are. It is, in fact, a much closer relative of hedgehogs and moles, and shrews are related to rodents only to the extent that both belong to the Boreoeutheria magnorder – together with humans, monkeys, cats, dogs, horses, rhinos, cattle, pigs, whales, bats, and others. Shrews have sharp, spike-like teeth, not the familiar gnawing front incisor teeth of rodents.
Shrews are distributed almost worldwide; of the major tropical and temperate land masses, only New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand have no native shrews; in South America shrews appeared only relatively recently, as a result of the Great American Interchange, and are present only in the northern Andes. In terms of species diversity, the shrew family is the fourth-most successful mammal family, being rivalled only by the muroid rodent families Muridae and Cricetidae and the bat family Vespertilionidae.
Temporal range: Middle Eocene–Recent
G. Fischer, 1814
All shrews are comparatively small, most no larger than a mouse. The largest species is the Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus) of tropical Asia, which is about 15 cm long and weighs around 100 g; several are very small, notably the Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), which at about 3.5 cm (1.4 in) and 1.8 g (0.063 oz) is the smallest living terrestrial mammal.
In general, shrews are terrestrial creatures that forage for seeds, insects, nuts, worms, and a variety of other foods in leaf litter and dense vegetation, but some specialise in climbing trees, living underground, living under snow, or even hunting in water. They have small eyes and generally poor vision, but have excellent senses of hearing and smell. They are very active animals, with voracious appetites. Shrews have unusually high metabolic rates, above that expected in comparable small mammals. Shrews in captivity can eat 1/2 to 2 times their own body weight in food daily.
They do not hibernate, but are capable of entering torpor. In winter, many species undergo morphological changes that drastically reduce their body weight. Shrews can lose between 30% and 50% of their body weight, shrinking the size of bones, skull, and internal organs.
Whereas rodents have gnawing incisors that grow throughout life, the teeth of shrews wear down throughout life, a problem made more extreme because they lose their milk teeth before birth, so have only one set of teeth throughout their lifetimes. Apart from the first pair of incisors, which are long and sharp, and the chewing molars at the back of the mouth, the teeth of shrews are small and peg-like, and may be reduced in number. The dental formula of shrews is:3.1.1-3.3
Female shrews can have up to 10 litters a year; in the tropics, they breed all year round; in temperate zones, they cease breeding only in the winter. Shrews have gestation periods of 17–32 days. The female often becomes pregnant within a day or so of giving birth, and lactates during her pregnancy, weaning one litter as the next is born. Shrews live 12 to 30 months.
Shrews are unusual among mammals in a number of respects. Unlike most mammals, some species of shrews are venomous. Shrew venom is not conducted into the wound by fangs, but by grooves in the teeth. The venom contains various compounds, and the contents of the venom glands of the American short-tailed shrew are sufficient to kill 200 mice by intravenous injection. One chemical extracted from shrew venom may be potentially useful in the treatment of high blood pressure, while another compound may be useful in the treatment of some neuromuscular diseases and migraines. The saliva of the northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda) contains soricidin, a peptide which has been studied for use in treating ovarian cancer. Also, along with the bats and toothed whales, some species of shrews use echolocation. Unlike most other mammals, shrews lack zygomatic bones (also called the jugals), so have incomplete zygomatic arches.
The only terrestrial mammals known to echolocate are two genera (Sorex and Blarina) of shrews, the tenrecs of Madagascar, rats, and the solenodons. These include the Eurasian or common shrew (Sorex araneus) and the American vagrant shrew (Sorex vagrans) and northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda). These shrews emit series of ultrasonic squeaks. By nature the shrew sounds, unlike those of bats, are low-amplitude, broadband, multiharmonic, and frequency modulated. They contain no "echolocation clicks" with reverberations and would seem to be used for simple, close-range spatial orientation. In contrast to bats, shrews use echolocation only to investigate their habitats rather than additionally to pinpoint food.
Except for large and thus strongly reflecting objects, such as a big stone or tree trunk, they probably are not able to disentangle echo scenes, but rather derive information on habitat type from the overall call reverberations. This might be comparable to human hearing whether one calls into a beech forest or into a reverberant wine cellar.
The 385 shrew species are placed in 26 genera, which are grouped into three living subfamilies: Crocidurinae (white-toothed shrews), Myosoricinae (African shrews), and Soricinae (red-toothed shrews). In addition, the family contains the extinct subfamilies Limnoecinae, Crocidosoricinae, Allosoricinae, and Heterosoricinae (although Heterosoricinae is also commonly considered a separate family).
The American water shrew (Sorex palustris) or northern water shrew, is found in the nearctic faunal region located throughout the mountain ranges of northern United States and in Canada and Alaska.Asian house shrew
The Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus), grey musk shrew, Asian musk shrew, money shrew, or simply house shrew is a widespread, adaptable species of shrew found mainly in South Asia but introduced widely throughout Asia and eastern Africa.
It is a large shrew with a strong musk smell. It is related to the Etruscan shrew.
This species is locally called chuchunder in India and is mentioned in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, as a nocturnal inhabitant of houses in India, by the name of chuchundra. However, Kipling's mistaken use of the name 'musk rat' has led to confusion with the unrelated North American muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), and the latter species, not found in India, was (erroneously) illustrated in the Jungle Book.
This house shrew is categorized as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is also considered an invasive species and implicated in the demise of several island lizard species.Barren ground shrew
The barren ground shrew (Sorex ugyunak) is a small shrew found in northern Canada west of Hudson Bay and in Alaska. At one time, this species was considered to be a subspecies of the similar cinereus shrew (S. cinereus). It is similar in appearance and thought to be closely related to the Saint Lawrence Island shrew (S. jacksoni) and Pribilof Island shrew (S. pribilofensis).
It is dark brown on its back with grey-brown sides and underparts; the tail is pale brown on top and light below with a light brown tip. Its body is about 8 cm in length including a 3 cm long tail. It weighs about 4 g. This animal is found north of the tree line, in wet meadows or thickets in the tundra. It eats insects, small invertebrates and seeds.
The epithet name ugyunak is the Inuit word for "shrew".Bicolored shrew
The bicolored shrew or bicoloured white-toothed shrew (Crocidura leucodon) is a species of mammal in the family Soricidae. It is found in eastern, central and southern Europe and in western Asia. It is a nocturnal species and feeds on insects and other small creatures. Several litters of young are born during the warmer months of the year in a nest of dry grasses in a concealed location.Common shrew
The common shrew (Sorex araneus), also known as the Eurasian shrew, is the most common shrew, and one of the most common mammals, throughout Northern Europe, including Great Britain, but excluding Ireland. It is 55 to 82 millimetres (2.2 to 3.2 in) long and weighs 5 to 12 grams (0.2 to 0.4 oz), and has velvety dark brown fur with a pale underside. Juvenile shrews have lighter fur until their first moult. The common shrew has small eyes, a pointed, mobile snout and red-tipped teeth. It has a life span of approximately 14 months.
Shrews are active day and night, taking short periods of rest between relatively long bursts of activity.Crocidura
The genus Crocidura is one of nine genera of the shrew subfamily Crocidurinae. Members of the genus are commonly called white-toothed shrews or musk shrews, although both also apply to all of the species in the subfamily. With over 180 species, Crocidura contains the most species of any mammal genus. The name Crocidura means "woolly tail", because the tail of Crocidura species are covered in short hairs interspersed with longer ones.Eastern mole
The eastern mole or common mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is a medium-sized, overall grey North American mole and the only member of the genus Scalopus. Its large, hairless, spade-shaped forefeet are adapted for digging. The species is native to Canada (Ontario), Mexico, and the eastern United States, and has the widest range of any North American mole.
The species prefers the loamy soils found in thin woods, fields, pastures, and meadows, and builds both deep and shallow burrows characterized by discarded excess soil collected in molehills. Its nest is composed of leaves and grasses, and its two to five young are on their own at about four weeks. Its diet consists principally of earthworms and other soil life, but the mole will eat vegetable matter.
Dogs, cats, foxes, and coyotes prey upon the mole, and the species hosts a variety of parasites. Unlike gophers, moles do not eat vegetation and pose no threat to human concerns; the occasional damage to lawns is offset by the aeration provided the soil and consumption of insects. The construction of golf courses has provided the mole with ideal habitat. The species is abundant, occurs in protected areas, faces no major threats and is of little concern to conservationists.Elephant shrew
Elephant shrews, also called jumping shrews or sengis, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea. Their traditional common English name "elephant shrew" comes from a perceived resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and their superficial similarity with shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Eulipotyphla. However, phylogenetic analysis revealed that elephant shrews are not classified with true shrews, but are in fact more closely related to elephants than shrews. In 1997 the biologist Jonathan Kingdon proposed that they instead be called "sengis" (singular sengi), a term derived from the Bantu languages of Africa, and in 1998 they were classified into the new clade Afrotheria.They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. One species, the North African elephant shrew, remains in the semiarid, mountainous country in the far northwest of the continent.
The creature is one of the fastest small mammals, having been recorded to reach speeds of 28.8 kilometres per hour (17.9 mph).Etruscan shrew
The Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), also known as the Etruscan pygmy shrew or the white-toothed pygmy shrew, is the smallest known mammal by mass, weighing only about 1.8 grams (0.063 oz) on average. (The bumblebee bat is regarded as the smallest mammal by skull size and body length.)
The Etruscan shrew has a body length of about 4 centimetres (1.6 in) excluding the tail. It is characterized by very rapid movements and a fast metabolism, eating about 1.5–2 times its own body weight per day. It feeds on various small vertebrates and invertebrates, mostly insects, and can hunt individuals of the same size as itself. These shrews prefer warm and damp climates and are widely distributed in the belt between 10° and 30°N latitude stretching from Europe and North Africa up to Malaysia. They are also found in the Maltese islands, situated in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Although widespread and not threatened overall, they are generally uncommon and are endangered in some countries.Eurasian pygmy shrew
The Eurasian pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus), often known simply as the pygmy shrew, is a widespread shrew of northern Eurasia. It is the only shrew native to Ireland.Active throughout the day and night, the Eurasian pygmy shrew lives in undergrowth and leaf litter and lives off small insects and invertebrates. It has an average weight of 4 grams and has one of the highest metabolic rates of any animal, meaning it must eat at regular intervals — every two hours or so.The breeding season lasts from April through to August. Females usually produce between two and eight young per litter and care for the young in an underground nest. Since the gestation period is just over three weeks, they can have up to five litters in one year, though the life span of a pygmy shrew is a little over 15 months.In April 2008, the greater white-toothed shrew was discovered in Ireland. While the introduction of the species will possibly sustain threatened birds of prey, such as the barn owl, the nonnative mammal could threaten some of the smaller native species, such as the Eurasian pygmy shrew.European mole
The European mole (Talpa europaea) is a mammal of the order Eulipotyphla. It is also known as the common mole and the northern mole.This mole lives in an underground tunnel system, which it constantly extends. It uses these tunnels to hunt its prey. Under normal conditions the displaced earth is pushed to the surface, resulting in the characteristic molehills. It feeds mainly on earthworms, but also on insects, centipedes and even mice and shrews. Its saliva contains toxins which paralyze earthworms in particular.Hairy-tailed mole
The hairy-tailed mole (Parascalops breweri), also known as Brewer's mole, is a medium-sized North American mole. It is the only member of the genus Parascalops. The species epithet breweri refers to Thomas Mayo Brewer, an American naturalist.Marsh shrew
The marsh shrew (Sorex bendirii), also known as the Pacific water shrew, Bendire's water shrew, Bendire's shrew and Jesus shrew is the largest North American member of the genus Sorex (long-tailed shrews). Primarily covered in dark-brown fur, it is found near aquatic habitats along the Pacific coast from southern British Columbia to northern California. With air trapped in its fur for buoyancy, marsh shrews can run for three to five seconds on top of the water. It measures about 16 cm (6.3 in) in length, including a 7-centimetre (2.8 in)-long tail, and weighs an average of 14.5–16 g (0.51–0.56 oz). The marsh shrew's diet consists mainly of invertebrates, which it hunts on land and in the water. They are rare; their populations are thought to be in decline, and they are considered endangered in parts of their range.Solenodon
Solenodons (meaning "slotted-tooth") are venomous, nocturnal, burrowing, insectivorous mammals belonging to the family Solenodontidae. The two living solenodon species are the Cuban solenodon (Solenodon cubanus), and the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus).
The Hispaniolan solenodon covers a wide range of habitats on the island of Hispaniola from lowland dry forest to highland pine forest. Two other described species became extinct during the Quaternary. Oligocene North American genera, such as Apternodus, have been suggested as relatives of Solenodon, but the origins of the animal remain obscure.Only one genus, Solenodon, is known. Other genera have been erected but are now regarded as junior synonyms. Solenodontidae shows retention of primitive mammal characteristics. In 2016, solenodons were confirmed by genetic analysis as belonging to an evolutionary branch that split from the lineage leading to hedgehogs, moles, and shrews before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. They are one of two families of Caribbean soricomorphs.
The other family, Nesophontidae, became extinct during the Holocene. Molecular data suggest they diverged from solenodons roughly 57 million years ago. The solenodon is estimated to have diverged from other living mammals about 73 million years ago.Sorex
The genus Sorex includes many of the common shrews of Eurasia and North America, and contains at least 142 known species and subspecies. Members of this genus, known as long-tailed shrews, are the only members of the tribe Soricini of the subfamily Soricinae (red-toothed shrews). They have 32 teeth.
These animals have long, pointed snouts, small ears, which are often not visible, and scent glands located on the sides of their bodies. As their eyesight is generally poor, they rely on hearing and smell to locate their prey, mainly insects. Some species also use echolocation. Distinguishing between species without examining the dental pattern is often difficult.
In some species, a female shrew and her dependent young form "caravans", in which each shrew grasps the rear of the shrew in front, when changing location.Soricomorpha
Soricomorpha ("shrew-form") is a formerly used taxon within the class of mammals. In the past it formed a significant group within the former order Insectivora. However, Insectivora was shown to be polyphyletic and various new orders were split off from it, including Afrosoricida (tenrecs and golden moles), Macroscelidea (elephant shrews), and Erinaceomorpha (hedgehogs and gymnures), with the four remaining extant and recent families of Soricomorpha shown here then being treated as a separate order. Insectivora was left empty and disbanded.Subsequently, Soricomorpha itself was shown to be paraphyletic, because Soricidae shared a more recent common ancestor with Erinaceidae than with other soricomorphs. The combination of Soricomorpha and Erinaceidae, referred to as order Eulipotyphla, has been shown to be monophyletic.Living members of the group range in size from the Etruscan shrew, at about 3.5 cm and 2 grams, to the Cuban solenodon, at about 32 cm and 1 kg.
Family Soricidae (shrews)
Subfamily Crocidurinae: (white-toothed shrews)
Subfamily Soricinae: (red-toothed shrews)
Subfamily Myosoricinae: (African white-toothed shrews)
Family Talpidae: (moles and close relatives)
Subfamily Scalopinae (New World moles and close relatives)
Subfamily Talpinae (Old World moles and close relatives)
Subfamily Uropsilinae (Chinese shrew-like moles)
Family Solenodontidae: solenodons (rare primitive eulipotyphlans of the Caribbean; two extant species)
Family † Nesophontidae: West Indian shrews (recently extinct eulipotyphlans of the Caribbean)
Family † Heterosoricidae
Family † Nyctitheriidae
genus †NyctilestesStar-nosed mole
The star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata) is a small mole found in wet low areas in the northern parts of North America. It is the only member of the tribe Condylurini and the genus Condylura.
The star-nosed mole is easily identifiable by the twenty-two pink, fleshy appendages ringing its snout which is used as a touch organ with more than 25,000 minute sensory receptors, known as Eimer's organs, with which this hamster-sized mole feels its way around. With the help of its Eimer's organs, it may be perfectly poised to detect seismic wave vibrations.The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.
The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.
The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio "tames" her with various psychological torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's younger sister, Bianca, who is seen as the "ideal" woman. The question of whether the play is misogynistic or not has become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern scholars, audiences, and readers.
The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The 1999 high school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.White-toothed shrew
The white-toothed shrews or Crocidurinae are one of three subfamilies of the shrew family Soricidae.
The outer layer of these shrews' teeth is white, unlike that of the red-toothed shrews. These species are typically found in Africa and southern Europe and Asia. This subfamily includes the largest shrew, the Asian house shrew (Suncus murinus), at about 15 cm in length, and the smallest, the Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), at about 3.5 cm in length and 2 grams in weight. Shrews are possibly the world's smallest extant mammal (although some give this title to the bumblebee bat). Crocidura contains the most species of any mammal genus.
When young must be moved before they are independent, mother and young form a chain or "caravan" where each animal hangs on to the rear of the one in front. This behaviour has also been observed in some Sorex species.
Extant species of Soricomorpha