Hainan gymnure (Hylomys hainanensis)

Synonyms: Neohylomys hainanensis
GenusHylomys (1)
SizeHead-body length: 120 – 147 mm (2)
Tail length: 36 – 43 mm (2)
Weight50 – 69 g (2)

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

The Hainan gymnure, despite first appearances, is actually a relative of the hedgehog. It may lack the distinctive prickly spines, but it does have the same elongated head and snout and well-developed eyes and ears (3). The soft, dense fur is a rust-grey colour on the upperparts, with a long, black stripe running down the centre of the back. On the sides, the rust-grey is washed with olive-yellow, blending to pale grey or yellowish-white on the underparts. The small head of the Hainan gymnure is blackish-grey, mixed with brown. The tail, longer than that of other gymnure species, is almost naked, with just a sparse scattering of tiny hairs, as are the ears and feet (2). Like other gymnures, this species probably emits a strong characteristic odour (4).

Endemic to Hainan Island, off southern China (2).

The Hainan gymnure has only been recorded in tropical rainforest and subtropical evergreen forest. Originally, this small mammal was believed to be subterranean, but it is now thought more likely to only use burrows as refuges (2).

The ecology of this elusive mammal in the wild is not known (2), but it is likely to be similar to that of closely related gymnures. Other Hylomys species feed on invertebrates, such as insects and earthworms, which they find by rummaging through the leaf litter on the forest floor with their long, mobile snout. Active by both day and night, Hylomys species are mostly found on the forest floor, singly or in groups of two to three, but they may also be seen climbing in low bushes. Breeding probably occurs throughout the year, with two or three young being born after a 30 to 35 day gestation period (4)

The preferred habitat of the Hainan gymnure, evergreen forest, is under considerable pressure from clearance for timber and the expansion of agriculture (2).

Although the Hainan gymnure is poorly known, the rate of habitat loss on Hainan Island is great enough to raise serious concern for this species’ survival. It has therefore been recommended by the IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group that its precise distribution and status needs to be determined (2). Such information can be used to inform future conservation measures.

For further information on the Hainan gymnure and its conservation see: 

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  2. IUCN. (1995) Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews – Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  3. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker's Mammals of the World. 5th Edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.