, more commonly known as the Eurasian pygmy shrew, is a small mammal that is native to the Palearctic region. It is the most widespread Eurasian shrew, and is found in northern Iberia and the British Isles as well as continental Europe, European Russia and Siberia. Although commonly found throughout Eurasia, is absent from many islands, including the Shetland Isles, the Channel Isles, the Isles of Scilly and some of the smaller islands in the Stockholm archipelago.
- Aquatic Biomes
- Other Habitat Features
- Range elevation
- 0 to 2,260 m
- 0.00 to ft
As with other Sorex species, the teeth of are red, which is due to the deposition of iron that helps protect the teeth against wear. It has an extremely high metabolic rate (9.62 cm^3 oxygen/hour), which is typical of Sorex species as well. ("Arkive", 2010; "The Mammal Society", 2010; Rychlik and Jancewicz, 2002; Step, 1921; "Nature Online", 2008)
Sorex araneus), but can be distinguished by its slightly paler coat color and a distinctly bi-colored tail that is longer and hairier than that of the Eurasian shrew. has small eyes and short, rounded ears and complex lobes in the ear conch. The snout is narrow, long, and slender (i.e., pointed) with large whiskers at the end. It has short legs and plantigrade posture. Each foot has five digits, and the length of the hindfeet measures from 10 to 11 mm. Sexual dimorphism in is minimal, with adult females having three pairs of visible teat spots and adult males having visible testicles. Both males and females have scent glands located on the flanks. ("Arkive", 2010; "The Mammal Society", 2010; Rychlik and Jancewicz, 2002; Step, 1921; "Nature Online", 2008)is the smallest native British shrew. Adult body length ranges from 39 to 60 mm, tail length ranges from 32 to 46 mm, and adult weight ranges from 2.4 to 6.1 g (decreasing by 28% in the winter). It can easily be confused with the Eurasian shrew (
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- Range mass
- 2.4 to 6.1 g
- 0.08 to 0.21 oz
- Average mass
- 3.0 ± 0.13 g
- Range length
- 71 to 106 mm
- 2.80 to 4.17 in
- Average basal metabolic rate
- 9.62 cm3.O2/g/hr
Little is known about mating in ("The Mammal Society", 2010). However, males expand their territories in search of females during breeding season.
- Mating System
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- usually breeds twice per season, but have been recorded breeding up to five times per season.
- Breeding season
- Mating occurs from April to August.
- Range number of offspring
- 4 to 12
- Average number of offspring
- Range gestation period
- 19 to 25 days
- Typical lifespan
- 1.5 to 2 years
- Typical lifespan
- Typical lifespan
- 16 (high) months
- Typical lifespan
Like other soricines, has an extremely high metabolism, requiring it to consume approximately 125% its own bodyweight in insects each day. Though its activity levels heighten during dawn and dusk (indicating a crepuscular rhythm), its high energy demands result in an ultradian rhythm (recurrent periods or cycles repeating throughout a 24-hour photoperiod). Its high metabolic rate does not allow for the fat deposition required for hibernation, as any stored fat is used for thermogenesis (the creation of body heat). As a result, remains active throughout the winter, spending up to 50% of its time foraging for food. It remains aboveground all winter, though it uses abandoned holes dug by other species for shelter when necessary. When snow is present, shrews use the subnivean zone (a region of open space located between the surface of teh groun and above the snow layer) while foraging. When snow is absent, they make tunnels in the ground cover. ("Arkive", 2010; "The Mammal Society", 2010; Malmquist, 1985; Pernetta, 1976; Rychlik and Jancewicz, 2002)
- Range territory size
- 530 to 1800 m^2
Sorex species studied. When initiated aggressive behavior towards a trespasser, it had the shortest attack time of the four species studied. ("Arkive", 2010; "The Mammal Society", 2010; Malmquist, 1985; Rychlik and Zwolak, 2006)exhibits higher levels of aggression when confronted by a sympatric and closely related species than when confronted by an allopatric and unrelated species. In addition, Rychlik and Zwolak (2006) showed that when territorial boundaries were crossed by other species, became immediately defensive and remained so longer than any of the four
Communication and Perception
- Other Communication Modes
- scent marks
The diet of Operophtera brumata), and spiders (Nemastomatoidea spp. and Linyphiidae spp.). It has also been known to eat small slugs and snails, and small amounts of plant material, none of which are preferred food items. ("Arkive", 2010; "The Mammal Society", 2010; East, 1974; Pernetta, 1976; "Nature Online", 2008)depends on the availability of prey, which can be affected by seasonality, weather, and habitat. With the possible exception of some millipede species, it is a non-specific insectivore and readily consumes most arthropods. Its diet consists of prey that are less than 6 mm long, including beetles (Coleoptera), woodlice, adult flies, insect larvae (e.g., winter moth,
Studies show direct resource competition between Sorex araneus (Eurasian shrew) where they occur sympatrically. However, to decrease the degree of competition, both participate in resource partitioning. is a non-burrowing mammal and has more difficulty obtaining insect larvae. Sorex araneus is a burrowing mammal and therefore, has a much easier time accessing insect larvae and earthworms. In addition, both species forage on prey that is similar in size to themselves, with S. araneus feeding on larger prey than . However, may cache larger prey items when there is an overabundance of food, as their metabolic requirements are too great to go without food for longer than a few hours (Malmquist, 1985; Pernetta, 1976; Rychlik and Jancewicz, 2002)and
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
- terrestrial worms
- Other Foods
- Foraging Behavior
- stores or caches food
As an insectivore, Operophtera brumata) had a significant impact on their abundance. Because they are prey for many species, may help support small carnivore populations throughout Eurasia. Finally, Sorex species are extremely vulnerable to environmental changes. As a result, they are good biological indicators of environmental change (e.g., habitat destruction, heavy metal pollution, pesticide pollution, and climate change). ("Arkive", 2010; "The Mammal Society", 2010; East, 1974; Hutterer, et al., 2008; Malmquist, 1985; Pernetta, 1976; "Nature Online", 2008)may help control insect populations, and East (1974) noted that predation on winter moth larvae (
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
- Positive Impacts
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse effects ofon humans.
is abundant throughout its range and is listed as a species of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Serenity Mutchler (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stefanie Stainton (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Christopher Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
- bilateral symmetry
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.
a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.
an animal that mainly eats meat
Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
active at dawn and dusk
- desert or dunes
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.
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the reflected sound waves.
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.
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
having more than one female as a mate at one time
- scent marks
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
- stores or caches food
places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sound above the range of human hearing for either navigation or communication or both
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
2010. "Arkive" (On-line). Pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus). Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.arkive.org/pygmy-shrew/sorex-minutus/info.html.
The Natural History Museum, London. 2008. "Nature Online" (On-line). Pygmy Shrew (Sorex minutus). Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/fff-pcp/glob.pl?report=Fauna&Fauna.[FaunaNo]=1359.
2010. "The Mammal Society" (On-line). Sorex minutus - Eurasian pygmy shrew. Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://wildlife1.wildlifeinformation.org/s/0MInsectivor/Soricidae/Sorex/Sorex_minutus/Sorex_minutus.html.
East, R. 1974. Predation on the Soil-Dwelling Stages of the Winter Moth at Wytham Woods, Berkshire. Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 43/No. 3: 611-626. Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3526.
Hutterer, R., G. Amori, B. Kryštufek, M. Fernandes, H. Meinig. 2008. "Sorex minutus" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2.. Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.iucnredlist.org.
Malmquist, M. 1985. Character Displacement and Biogeography of the Pygmy Shrew in Northern Europe. Ecology, Vol. 66/No. 2: 372-377. Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1940386.
Pernetta, J. 1976. Diets of the Shrews Sorex araneus L. and Sorex minutus L. in Wytham Grassland. Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 45/No. 3: 899-912. Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3588.
Rychlik, L., E. Jancewicz. 2002. Prey size, prey nutrition, and food handling by shrews of different body sizes. Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 13/No. 2: 216–223.
Rychlik, L., R. Zwolak. 2006. Interspecific aggression and behavioural dominance among four sympatric species of shrews. Canada Journal of Zoology, Vol. 84: 434–448.
Step, E. 1921. Animal Life of the British Isles: a pocket guide to the mammals, reptiles, and batrachians of wayside and woodlands. London and New York: Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.. Accessed August 02, 2010 at http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/name/Sorex_minutus#47.