Egyptian pygmy shrew (Crocidura religiosa)

loading
We are currently searching for images of the Egyptian pygmy shrew
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Egyptian pygmy shrew fact file

Egyptian pygmy shrew description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderEulipotyphla
FamilySoricidae
GenusCrocidura (1)

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.

Size
Head-body length: 5.4 cm (2)
Tail length: 3.5 cm (2)
Top

Egyptian pygmy shrew biology

Shrews, which have incredibly fast metabolisms and voracious appetites, feed mainly on insects and insect larvae, making them valuable species in agricultural areas (3). Like some other species in this genus, it is likely that the Egyptian pygmy shrew lives a largely solitary life and maintains a territory (3).

Musk shrews (Crocidura species) typically have litters of between one and ten young, each weighing around one gram. Born hairless, the young are generally fully haired by 16 days of age, open their eyes at 13 days and are weaned by 20 days (3) (6). Crocidura species display ‘caravanning’ behaviour; if the nest is disturbed the female will lead her young to another site, with the young following the female in a line, each using their teeth to hold the back end of the one in front (3) (7). Musk shrews are usually sexually mature by two to three months (3), and typically live to 12 to 18 months of age (2).   

Top

Egyptian pygmy shrew range

The Egyptian pygmy shrew is endemic to Egypt, and can only be found in the Nile Delta and possibly the Nile Valley (2).

Top

Egyptian pygmy shrew habitat

The Egyptian pygmy shrew lives mainly in arable land, where it may be found under stones, bricks, and clumps of earth in moist, cultivated fields. It has also been observed in canal banks, dry wells, and under piles of grass, cotton and corn (2).

Top

Egyptian pygmy shrew status

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1)

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient

Top

Egyptian pygmy shrew threats

As very little is known about the Egyptian pygmy shrew, there is little information on what may be affecting it. Possible threats could include the construction of the Aswan Dam, which would have modified the shrew’s natural habitat (1).

Top

Egyptian pygmy shrew conservation

There are currently no conservation actions in place to protect the little-known Egyptian pygmy shrew. Further studies on its ecology, range and threats would help improve understanding of this diminutive species (1).

Top

Authentication

Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~plzfg/

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
Top

Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Larvae
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Territory
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Helmy, I. and Osborn, D. (1980) The contemporary land mammals of Egypt (including Sinai). Fieldiana Zoology, 5: 1-579.
  3. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  4. Hoath, R. (2003) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. American University Cairo Press, Egypt.
  5. Wilson, D.E and Reeder, D.M. (2005) Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  6. Innes, D.G.L. (1994) Life histories of the Soricidae: a review. In: Merritt, J.F., Kirkland, G.L. and Rose, R.K. (Eds.) Advances in the Biology of Shrews. Special Publication No. 18. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh.
  7. Churchfield, S. (1988) Shrews of the British Isles. Shire Natural History, Shire Publications, Aylesbury.
X
Close

Image credit

We are currently searching for images of the Egyptian pygmy shrew  
We are currently searching for images of the Egyptian pygmy shrew

© www.arkive.org

ARKive
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Egyptian pygmy shrew (Crocidura religiosa) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog