The short-eared elephant shrew mostly inhabits Namibia, southern Botswana, and South Africa.
The animal only lives in desert and semi-desert areas of the countries in which it is found. It hides in the sparse grass cover or bushes that are a part of these dry areas. They also burrow into the sand.
Compared to members of the other elephant shrew genus, the short-eared elephant shrew has shorter and rounder ears and lacks the pale rings around the eyes that are typical of those animals. The tail is hairy, with a visible gland on the underside. On the hind feet, the first digit is small and has a claw. The fur is usually long, soft, and is an orange, brown or grayish color on top and a lighter color on the underside. Adults often weigh between 40-50 grams with 100-110mm long bodies and 97-130mm long tails. Defining skull features include an enlarged auditory bullae and the appearance of three upper incisors, as well as a short rostrum and crowded teeth. Females also have six mammae.
(Rathbun & Fons) (Unger, online)
The breeding season is in the warm, wet months of August and September. A female may have many pregnancies during one breeding season. (Shaw, 1934)
Gestation for these animals is typically about 56 days and only two young are born, sometimes one. They are born in a very precocial state; they can run within a few hours after birth, are large in size, and are born with hair and their eyes open. Babies are weaned at 16-25 days and reach sexual maturity after about 43 days. (Rathbun & Fons)
The female does not make a nest for the young; however, she will find a sheltered area and give birth to the young in it. The mother does not guard her young and is gone from the litter most of the time, coming back once a day to feed the young. (Smith, 1829)
In the wild, these animals only live for 1-2 years. In captivity they can live as long as 3-4 years.
These animals are mostly diurnal except when threatened by predators. They are usually solitary animals in the wild except when they come together to mate. When mating, females fend off other females and males fight off other males.
These elephant shrews take refuge under bush or rocks but also dig burrows or use shelters previously built by other small species, typically rodents. The animals use the burrows like roads to get from place to place. They keep them clean by kicking any debris that clogs their tunnels. They also sand bathe to help keep clean.
(Unger, online) (Smith, 1829)
Short-eared elephant shrews typically eat insects, usually termites and ants, and other small invertebrates. They may also feed on plant parts such as roots, shoots, and berries.
(Unger & Kratochvil, 1999)
The animal usually jumps from bush to bush during the day or basks in the sun, but if harassed by diurnal predators, such as hawks, it switches its schedule and looks for food at dusk, hiding in bushes during the day. Also, by using their forelimbs these animals can dig tunnels very rapidly to quickly escape predators. Few predators prey on the young because the young mature and leave the nest shortly after birth.
(Lincoln Park Zoo, online) (Smith, 1829)
These elephant shrews help move soil around to create their burrows as well as recycle vacant burrows left from rodent species.
Possible helpful soil movement from burrowing activity.
Due to destruction of its habitat, this species is labeled “vulnerable” by the IUCN.
Alyce Dohring (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
fertilization takes place within the female's body
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in
uses touch to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
young are relatively well-developed when born
Lincoln Park Zoo, "Short-eared Elephant Shrew" (On-line). Accessed October 4, 2001 at http://www.lpzoo.com/tour/factsheets/mammals/elephant_shrew.html.
Rathbun, G., R. Fons. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol 1. New York: Mc Graw-Hill Publishing Co..
Regina, U. "Short-eared Elephant Shrew" (On-line). Accessed October 4, 2001 at http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a9201952/Englisch/welcome.htm.
Shaw, 1934. Mammals of Southwest Africa, Vol 1.
Shaw, 1983. The Mammals of Southern Africa Subregion.
Smith, A. 1829. Walker's Mammals of the World. Fourth Edition, Vol 1.. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Unger, R., H. Kratochvil. 1999. Feeding Preferences of Short-eared Elephant Shrews (Macroscelides proboscideus, Smith 1829). Zoology 102, Supplement II: 87.