Common shrews are one of Britain's and northern Europe's most abundant small mammals. With an insatiable appetite for insects and worms, these tiny terrors can devour up to their own body weight in a single day. All this eating should wear down their teeth, however, iron in the enamel not only turns them red but adds resistance. Common shrews are a staple of many an owl's diet. When disturbed from the nest, young shrews sometimes follow their mother in caravan fashion, using their flexible snouts to hold on to the tail of the sibling in front.
Scientific name: Sorex araneus
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Common shrew distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Stable
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The common shrew (Sorex araneus) or 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 55–82 millimetres (2.2–3.2 in) long and weighs 5–12 grams (0.2–0.4 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, but mostly after dark. They are active most of the time, resting for only a few minutes between burst of activity.
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