About animals

Species: Crocidura suaveolens Lesser Shrew


Small shrew - a small, well-built shrew, resembling a small shrew in size and proportions. However, it is easy to distinguish: the shrew is painted not in brown, but in gray or grayish-yellow tones, it has large ears, protruding strongly from the fur, and the tail is covered not with smoothly lying hair, but with separate bristles sticking out to the sides. Well, as the name implies, the shanks have white tops. There are only three intermediate teeth on each side.

Apparently, the shrew, as a representative of the entire southern group, is a relatively recent invader in the temperate regions of Russia. In the warm season, shrew inhabits various biotopes, most often disturbed: abandoned gardens (especially cluttered with plant debris), forest edges, cluttered wastelands.

As a rule, the shrew does not dig a burrow, using natural voids under the roots, felling, and also large debris lying on the ground. The shrew feeds on a variety of invertebrates, preferring relatively small ones (which fit entirely in her mouth), but attacking rather large earthworms. Unlike a shrew of a similar size, a shrew eats “only” one third more per day than it weighs itself, and can remain hungry for several hours. Accordingly, she does not sleep in short breaks, but for two or three hours.

The female manages to bring three or four litters during the warm season. This shrew can sometimes be seen with offspring when the female decides to move the cubs to a new shelter. At the same time, she leads the cubs out of the hole, building them in a chain, where the first clings to the base of the tail of the mother with her teeth, the second to the first and so on.

The common shrew is widespread almost everywhere, north to the latitude of Moscow inclusive.

SMALL CEREATHER = Crocidura suaveolens Pallas, 1811

Read more: Shrews of Crimea

Description. A small animal, in appearance similar to Other small shrews: body length 4.5-6.0 cm, tail 3.0-3.5 cm, elongated nasal part of the head forms a kind of proboscis.

Field signs. It differs from shrews with a lighter, brownish-gray color of the back and sides, on the tail, in addition to the short fur adjacent to the skin, long rare hairs are clearly visible. The enamel of the teeth, including the sharp conical shape of the apex, is white, which also distinguishes the shrew from their related shrews.

Distribution: covers many steppe and mountain-desert regions of Southern Europe, Kazakhstan, Central and Central Asia. In the territory of Buryatia inhabits the southern forest-steppe Dzhidinsky and Kyakhtinsky areas.

Bilogy. Inhabits grasses and sedge meadows, shrubs and forest thickets in river and stream valleys, outskirts of fields, sparse grassy deciduous and mixed forests on the slopes of hills. Lives among grass, dry fallen leaves, in the dust of stumps and tree trunks lying on the ground. Shelters are usually found in different depressions in the soil, at the roots of trees and shrubs, sometimes in abandoned burrows of rodents. It feeds on small insects and their larvae, which it collects among vegetation, on the surface and in the upper soil layer. Breeds 1-2 times a year, in a brood from 3 to 7 cubs.

Factors determining changes in numbers. The general changes in landscapes under the influence of human activity (plowing, intensive grazing, fires, etc.) had a negative effect.

Appearance. Shrews are small animals, long-nosed and long-tailed.

Body length 5-7 cm, tail 2-4 cm (about half the body length). The top is gray, fawn or brownish, the bottom is light. The tail above is slightly darker than below. The tail is covered with even fur, from which separate elongated hairs protrude. The teeth are white (1), the ears protrude prominently from the fur. Coloring is quite variable.

Spread. It lives in the south of the European part of Russia, in the North Caucasus, the Southern Urals and Altai, in Southern Buryatia and Primorye in sparse forests, shrubs, steppes and agricultural land. Sometimes settles in wooden houses. In the 80s appeared in the vicinity of Leningrad. Compared to shrews, more dry-loving animals. Inhabitants of the steppe, forest-steppe, semi-desert.

Biology and behavior. Contrary to the name of the shrew, they themselves do not dig holes, but use the moves of rodents and moles, cracks and voids in the soil, or move under a layer of forest litter and in the grass, trampling long rammed tunnels (2), and in the winter they trample branched paths in the thickness of snow (3 )

In winter, they hardly leave the snow, but they do not hibernate even in the Yakut forest tundra with their terrible frosts. In cold winters, when shrews cannot get insects from frozen soil, they have to run a lot in the snow, collecting tree seeds. The snowy passages of shrews are very narrow (up to 2 cm) (3).

Shrews have an unpleasant smell, so most predators do not eat them. Therefore, on forest paths it is often necessary to see animals killed and abandoned by a predator (4). However, owls, for example, successfully feed on shrews, leaving behind characteristic traits (5).

In the taiga zone, the number of shrews is usually 200-600 per ha, in the tundra - 3-5 times less.

The very high metabolic rate of these tiny animals is manifested in the fact that of all mammals, they have the greatest oxygen demand and the highest body temperature - over 40 ° C.

Traces. Traces of shrews are very shallow, small, five-fingered (6), usually located in pairs. If the snow is not covered with infusion, then a clear imprint of the tail remains behind the track (7).

Vote. The voice of the shrews is a sharp high twitter.

Nutrition. Small shrew feeds in the thickness of the forest litter, on the surface and in the voids of the soil.

Small animals, shrews cool very quickly in the cold, so they have to eat a lot to maintain body temperature. They sometimes eat four times more per day than they weigh themselves, and without food they die in a few hours.

In the forests, shrews are among the largest mammals and, imperceptibly to the eye, are doing a great job of controlling the number of insects in the forest litter. Especially they eat bugs, earthworms, insect larvae. They do not disdain their own kind, especially in winter (8) (the figure shows the skin of a shrew, eaten by other shrews). In addition to animal feed, they also eat seeds (mainly conifers), which are sometimes stored for the winter, sometimes mushrooms. They also eat their own and someone else's litter.

Reproduction. They breed in spherical nests of grass (9), which are arranged in rodent burrows, under stones. Pregnancy is about 28 days. There can be several broods in a year, usually from 3-7 cubs. The grown cubs follow the mother for a long time, forming a “caravan” in which each animal holds its teeth at the base of the tail ahead (10). Shrews breed all summer.

Lesser Shrew (Croc>

Small shrew - a small shrew. The body length is 50-70 mm, the tail is about 50% of the body length, the length of the hind leg is 10-13 mm. Body weight - 3-7 g. The fur is soft shiny. In winter it is darker, longer and softer. The tail is covered with short bristly hairs.

Candylobasal skull length does not exceed 17.9 mm.

The color of the back and sides is from ash-gray and sand-fawn to brownish-grayish, the belly is grayish-whitish, the transition is not pronounced. The tail is two-tone, but the border of coloring is poorly visible,

The shrew range covers a vast territory, including North Africa, Europe and much of Asia. In Russia it is known from the Moscow Region, the Middle and Southern Urals, Pribaikalye, and Primorye.

Lifestyle. Inhabitant of forests, forest-steppes, steppes, semi-deserts and deserts. It inhabits many biotopes: sparse broad-leaved forests, shrubs, areas of various steppes and deserts, fields, gardens, vegetable gardens, very often settles in human dwellings.

The small shrew feeds mainly on invertebrates, including small insects and crustaceans. The feed consumed per day is almost 1.5 times (133%) superior in mass to the animal itself. Without food, the shrew can live a little more than a day. It is most active at dusk and at dawn.

Leads a secluded lifestyle. The boundaries of the individual site are marked with the secret of odorous glands located on the stomach. These tags have a very strong musky aroma.

A small shrew arranges its nest in the grass, in soil recesses and burrows of small rodents. Breeding lasts the entire warm period of the year (from March to September), in the litter there are 5-10 cubs. The female may already become pregnant during lactation. Up to 4-5 litters per breeding season.
Not only blind, but also already grown (sighted) cubs do not dare to walk on their own. When moving, they line up in a characteristic caravan, in which one cub clings its teeth to the skin on the mother’s thigh, the other cubs to the first, the third to second and so on. By squeak, the mother finds him and takes him to cover by the second flight.

The average lifespan of a shrew is up to 18 months.

Economic value. It brings certain benefits, exterminating various insects.

Within the Russian part of the range, a very rare and small species.

Similar species. It differs from a large shrew in a smaller size, from a long-tailed shrew differs in a shorter tail. It differs from the white-bellied shrew with a grayish (not purely white) belly and a light, without brown tones, coloring of the back.

Literature: Mammals of the USSR. A guide to the geographer and traveler. V.E. Flint, Yu.D. Chugunov, V.M. Smirin. Moscow, 1965