Savi’s pygmy shrew (Suncus etruscus)

loading
Savi's pygmy shrew, size comparison with human hand
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Savi’s pygmy shrew fact file

Savi’s pygmy shrew description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderEulipotyphla
FamilySoricidae
GenusSuncus (1)

The smallest land mammal in the world (3), Savi’s pygmy shrew has greyish-brown, velvety fur tinged with red on the upper side of its body, and greyish-white fur on the underside (2). It has relatively large ears and a long tail that is dark brown on the top, becoming paler towards the underside (2). The long, pointed snout of this diminutive mammal projects beyond the bottom lip (4).

Also known as
Etruscan shrew, pygmy white-toothed shrew, white-toothed pygmy shrew.
French
Pachyure Étrusque.
Spanish
Musarañita.
Size
Length: 6.2 – 8.1 cm (2)
Tail: 2.1 – 3.2 cm (2)
Weight
1.5 – 2 g (2)
Top

Savi’s pygmy shrew biology

The shrews in the genus Suncus are often called musk shrews, owing to the scent glands of the males which secrete a strong, musky odour (6). Shrews are largely solitary and territorial animals and males use these musky secretions to mark their territory (6) (7). An exception to this solitary existence is during the breeding season, when the shrews form monogamous pairs (6). The gestation period lasts 17 to 32 days and litters of 4 to 6 young are normal (8). During gestation, the pregnant female remains inside a nest within a burrow (6).

Savi’s pygmy shrew, like all shrews, is a voracious, opportunistic feeder, consuming mainly insects, but will also feed on meat, bread and other human food items when available (6) (8). It has an exceptional metabolism, with a heartbeat of over a thousand beats per minute (8); this incredibly high metabolic rate means it cannot survive for more than a few hours without food (4). To satisfy their high energy requirements, shrews can consume as much as 1.3 times their body weight in a single day (3).

Top

Savi’s pygmy shrew range

This widespread species has been found throughout southern Europe, primarily in the Mediterranean lowlands (5), and also in northern Africa, as far south as Ethiopia and Madagascar (2).

Top

Savi’s pygmy shrew habitat

Savi’s pygmy shrew is found in a variety of habitats including farmland, gardens, and olive groves (2), often along old walls and buildings (2).

Top

Savi’s pygmy shrew status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

Top

Savi’s pygmy shrew threats

Savi’s pygmy shrew is a widely distributed species and is not currently considered to be threatened (1).

Top

Savi’s pygmy shrew conservation

All members of the family Soricidae are listed under Appendix III of the Bern Convention, also known as the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, which means that any exploitation of this species must be regulated (1). Except for this listing, there are no conservation measures currently known to be in place for this small, but remarkable, species.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Top

Authentication

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:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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

Glossary

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.
Gestation
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Metabolic rate
The speed at which an animal uses energy.
Monogamous
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Hoath, R. (2009) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, Egypt.
  3. Carwardine, M. (2008) Animal Records. Sterling Publishing Company, New York.
  4. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press, London.
  5. Stone, D.R. (1995) Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Cambridge.
  6. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Mammals of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  7. Apps, P. (2000) Wild Ways: Field Guide to the Behaviour of Southern African Mammals. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa.
  8. Macdonald, D.W. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
X
Close

Image credit

Savi's pygmy shrew, size comparison with human hand  
Savi's pygmy shrew, size comparison with human hand

© Daniel Heuclin / www.photoshot.com

NHPA/Photoshot Holdings Ltd
29-31 Saffron Hill
London
EC1N 8SW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7421 6003
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7421 6006
sales@photoshot.com
http://www.photoshot.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Savi’s pygmy shrew (Suncus etruscus) 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 »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

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

Blog