The smallest species of shrew in Egypt (2), the Egyptian pygmy shrew has grey fur, tinged with brown on the upperparts and tipped with white on the paler underparts (2). The bristly tail is grey on top and white below, and the feet are whitish and almost hairless (3). It has small eyes and a pointed snout (2), and a slightly flattened head which, along with its paler overall colour and proportionately longer tail, distinguishes this species from other shrews found in Egypt (2) (4).
The Egyptian pygmy shrew gained its scientific name, religiosa, because the species was first described from embalmed specimens from ancient Egyptian tombs in Thebes (5). For some time it was thought that the Egyptian pygmy shrew was the same species as the wider-ranging Somali dwarf shrew (Crocidura nana), but upon careful examination it was found that the Egyptian pygmy shrew is in fact a smaller, separate species (5). This confusion has led to many authors classing the two species as one. This shrew is also easily overlooked and very difficult to trap because of its extremely small size, meaning it is very hard to locate and study (4); consequently, not much is known about this species.
- Head-body length: 5.4 cm (2)
- Tail length: 3.5 cm (2)