The Etruscan shrew (Suncus Etruscus) is also recognized as the Etruscan pygmy shrew or the white-toothed pygmy shrew is the smallest identified extant mammal by mass. This species of shrew, small mole-like animal and keeps the record for being the most diminutive creature in the world by the group.
The Etruscan shrews live in the forests of Southern Asia and Southern Europe. It is also acknowledged as the Etruscan pygmy shrew or the white-toothed pygmy shrew.
Predators, Threats and disease
The Etruscan shrew (Suncus Etruscus), also identified as the Etruscan pygmy shrew or the white-toothed pygmy shrew, is the most diminutive identified extant mammal by mass, weighing only around 1.8 g on average.
These shrews prefer warm and damp climates and are widely scattered in the belt within 10° and 30° N latitude stretching from Europe and North Africa up to Malaysia.
They are also discovered in the Maltese islands, established in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Although widespread and not threatened overall, they are usually uncommon and are endangered in some countries.
Etruscan shrew Facts
- Habitat: Warm and damp areas, grasslands and forests
- Country: Malaysia, Maltese Islands, Across Europe and North Africa
- Shelter: Shrubs, rocks/stone walls, and human-cultivated areas
- Colour: Usually grey to black in colour
- Size: 1.2 – 2 inches without tail, tail adds another 1 – 1.3 inches
- Weight: less than 2 grams
- Life Span: 2 years
- Potentially Dangerous: No
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Eulipotyphla
- Family: Soricidae
- Genus: Suncus
- Species: S. Etruscus
- English: Etruscan shrew, Pygmy white-toothed shrew, Savi’s pygmy shrew
- Spanish: Musarañita
- French: Pachyure étrusque
Etruscan shrews resemble mice with soft grey fur, elongated snouts, rounded ears, and tiny dark eyes. A large adult is 6 centimeters long, including the tail, and weighs just over two grams, the equivalent of 10 grains of rice. The Etruscan shrew is the second most miniature creature on the planet.
Size: The Etruscan shrew has a slender body, with a length between 3 and 5.2 cm (1.2 and 2.0 in), excluding the tail, which adds another 2.4 to 3.2 cm (0.94 to 1.26 in).
Weight: The body mass ranges between 1.3 g (0.046 oz) and 2.5 g (0.088 oz) and is usually about 1.8 g (0.063 oz).
Body Color: The fur color on the back and sides is pale brown but is light grey on the stomach.
Eyes: Their eyes are small but are usually visible in the fur.
Teeth: The shrew usually has 30 teeth, but the 4th upper intermediate tooth is tiny and is absent in some individuals.
Tail: Their tails stretch to nearly 2.3 inches.
Etruscan shrews are specialized for life in slits found in stone walls or piles of rock, and they can enter and capture prey in slits as thin as 7 millimeters. The Mediterranean prefers abandoned olive groves, vineyards, and other cultivated areas overrun by shrubs.
Etruscan shrews successfully hunt and feed on insects that have almost the same body size as themselves, and crickets are amongst their preferred food. The small body size of Etruscan shrews goes along with an extraordinarily high energy turnover.
The Etruscan shrew prefers warm and damp habitats included with shrubs, which it hides from predators. Areas where open territory, like grasslands and scrub, meet deciduous forests are normally occupied. It can be detected at sea level but is commonly defined to the foothills and lower belts of mountain areas, though it has been obtained up to 3,000 m (9,800 ft) above sea level.
The Etruscan shrew colonizes riparian thickets along the banks of lakes and rivers and human-cultivated regions. The shrew, however, avoids intensively cultivated areas and thick forests and hills. Instead, it is adapted to digging burrows and providing nests in various natural shelters, crevices, and uninhabited caves. Instead, they frequent rocks, boulders, stone walls, and ruins, darting quickly in and out between them.
Diet and Nutrition
Etruscan shrews are omnivores. The Etruscan shrew has a remarkably fast metabolism and needs to eat 1.5–2.0 times its body weight in food per day. As a result, they frequently serve on various invertebrates, including insects, larvae, earthworms, young amphibians, lizards, and rodents, and can hunt prey of almost the same body size.
It prefers species with a soft, thin exoskeleton, so it avoids ants when given a choice. It kills large prey by a bite to the head and eats it immediately but takes small insects back to its nest.
Etruscan shrews remain alone, without throughout mating periods. Their lifespan is determined at typically almost two years, but with large possibility. They preserve their territories by producing chirping noises and symptoms of aggressiveness. They tend to groom themselves regularly when not eating and constantly move when awake, and not hide.
The shrews are extra active throughout the night when they perform long trips; they stay near the nest or in a hiding place throughout the day. They reach their maximum level of activity at dawn. Due to its small size and reasonably high surface-area-to-volume ratio, the Etruscan shrew is at the continuous hazard of hypothermia and would quickly freeze to death if not for its extremely rapid metabolism.
Predators, Threats and disease
The largest threat to Etruscan shrews begins from human activities, especially the removal of their nesting territories and habitats due to farming. Etruscan shrews are also susceptible to weather fluctuations, such as cold winters and dry periods. The main predators are birds of prey, particularly owls.
Currently, the Etruscan Shrew is of least concern on the endangered species list. However, the biggest threats to the species are human activity, essentially the destruction of their nests and habitat from farming. The conservation situation on Etruscan Shrew is of least concern. However, some of the former subspecies are threatened. Etruscan Shrew is also endangered and vulnerable.
Here are some interesting facts about the Etruscan Shrew Species.
- They have a very powerful metabolism, consuming up to 2 times their body weight per day.
- The Etruscan Shrew has a very speedy heart rate of up to 1511 beats per minute. That indicates their heartbeats roughly 25 times each second!
- When there is a food shortage or cold period, the Etruscan Shrew can lower their body temperature and penetrate a state of temporary hibernation.
- The Etruscan Shrew is born naked and blind, and their eyes will ordinarily open after 14 to 16 days.
- While the Etruscan Shrew is the least attention species, they can be unique to find or even endangered in certain locations.