Savanna shrew (Crocidura fulvastra)

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Savanna shrew fact file

Savanna shrew description

GenusCrocidura (1)

The savanna shrew, which gets its name from its preferred habitat, is a white-toothed, or musk shrew (belonging to the genus Crocidura). White-toothed shrews are so named because, in contrast to other shrew groups, the tips of the teeth are not tinged reddish-brown (2). The short, velvety fur of the savanna shrew varies in colour between individuals, and may be brown, beige, grey or black (2). The long tail, which is covered in short, wiry hairs and longer, finer, white hairs, is often shorter in length than the body and head combined (2).

Head-body length: 4 – 18 cm (2)
Tail length: 4 – 11 cm (2)
3 – 65 g (2)

Savanna shrew biology

The savanna shrew feeds primarily on insects, but will also eat any fresh carrion, including that of small mammals, amphibians and reptiles (2). It finds its prey by foraging through leaf litter, under fallen trees, and under piles of stones or branches. If it feels threatened, the savanna shrew will stoop low to the ground, raise its head, display its white teeth, and produce a quick shriek (2).

Although the litter size of the savanna shrew is not known, the average litter size for white-toothed shrew species is one to ten young, with each weighing about one gram at birth (2). Typically, white-toothed shrews do not dig their own burrows, but instead occupy those abandoned by other burrowing animals, where they will build a nest from twigs and leaves (2). The young, which are hairless and blind for the first week of life, are weaned after about 20 days and are sexually mature by around two to three months (2).

All white-toothed shrews have scent glands on the sides of the body, which produce a strong, musky odour, hence their other common name, musk shrews (2). This strong odour appears to play a role in deterring predators, or may have a sexual function (3). Male white-toothed shrews possess larger glands than females (2), and leave a musky trail behind them, possibly to deter other males from following. The female leaves a strong trail behind when not in season, possibly to discourage any male from following, but when breeding, the female ceases leaving any odour trail, which may be to hide the nest and young from potential predators (3).


Savanna shrew range

The savanna shrew has a patchy distribution, extending from Mali, through Nigeria and Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya (1) (2). It is also thought to occur in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad (1), but this has yet to be confirmed. A mummified specimen of the savanna shrew has been found in Egypt, but this species has now been declared extinct there (1) (2).


Savanna shrew habitat

As it name implies, this shrew typically inhabits savanna (1).


Savanna shrew status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Savanna shrew threats

There are currently no known major threats to this species (1).


Savanna shrew conservation

Although no specific conservation measures exist for the savanna shrew, considering the large extent of its range, it is highly probable that this species occurs in some protected areas (1).



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:

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


The flesh of a dead animal.
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.
Animal that feeds primarily on insects.


  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
  2. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  3. Burton, M. and Burton R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, New York. 

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