Armored shrew

Scutisorex somereni

TAXONOMY

Scutisorex somereni (Thomas, 1910), Kyetume, Uganda.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Hero shrew; French: Musaraigne cuirassee, musaraigne armee; German: Schildspitzmaus.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length 4.8-6in (12-15 cm); tail 2.7-3.8 in (6.8-9.5 cm); weight 1.1-3.2 oz (30-90 g). Long thick gray fur with thin, chamois-colored streaks. Distinguished by a unique spine having almost double the number of vertebrae of other shrews. The vertebrae have lateral interlocking spines in addition to dorsal and ventral spines. This spine structure may pro-

vide considerable strength to the back, without limiting dorsal, ventral and lateral flexibility. Other characteristics include a naked tail, 30 completely white teeth, and four teats.

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical rainforests of the Zaire Basin and adjacent mountains in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

HABITAT

Edges of gallery forests; in fallen leaves and in swampy regions. BEHAVIOR

The armored shrew is active both night and day. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on small mammals when available as well as insects and some plant matter.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Probably monogamous. Small litters with one to three offspring.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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