Pygmy shrew, lesser shrew
British shrews are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and it is an offence to kill them without a special licence.
Body length: 42-62mm, Weight: 2.5-6g.
Pygmy shrews are similar in appearance to the common shrew except for their smaller size, and pygmy shrews have a proportionally longer and thicker tail.
They are widespread across the whole of Europe except for the Mediterranean region, and range eastwards through Siberia and in the south to the Himalayas in Asia.
Pygmy shrews are found in forests and grasslands, wherever there is plenty of ground cover.
They feed on insects, spiders, slugs, snails and carrion.
Pygmy shrews are solitary and are equally active during the day as at night. They are intolerant of other pygmy shrews, but are less inclined to fight than common shrews and tend to avoid other individuals.
They have significantly larger home ranges than common shrews, averaging 1400-1700 square metres. During winter, their home ranges increase in size as food becomes scarce.
They build nests below the ground or under dense vegetation. As with the common shrew, they have a good sense of smell and feeling, but they do not dig for their prey.
After a gestation period of 22-25 days, females give birth to 4-7 young, which are weaned after 22 days. They breed from April to October, with a peak in the summer.
The conservation status of pygmy shrews is unknown. As with the common shrew, they are hunted by owls, foxes, stoats, weasels and cats.