Common European whitetoothed shrew

Crocidura russula

TAXONOMY

Crocidura russula (Hermann, 1780), Bas Rhin, France. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Musaraigne musette; German: Hausspitzmaus. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length 2.4-3.4 in (6.1-8.6 cm); tail 1.2-1.7 in (3.0-4.3 cm); weight 0.2-0.4 oz (6-12 g). Grayish brown to reddish brown with a silverly luster on its back. The flanks and underside are brownish. The tail is brown on the dorsal surface and gray on the underside with long protruding hairs. The ears are visible. It has 28 completely white teeth (including three upper unicuspids). This species is considered to be more advanced than many other Crocidurinae genera.

DISTRIBUTION

Occurs in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, southern and western Europe including an Atlantic island off of France, and on the Mediterranean islands of Ibiza, Sardinia, and Pantelleria.

HABITAT

Lives in or near farmyards, yards, fields, and at the edges of cities. Close to the Mediterranean, these small shrews are found in brushlands, in the underbrush of cork and in olive groves and the overgrowth of vineyards.

BEHAVIOR

Generally aggressive and voracious. When provoked, they frequently crouch on the ground with head raised and emit a squeak. This species is more tolerant of conspecifics. During the cold of winter, individuals may share nests. With onset of spring, mature females resume their territorial behavior.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Their diet consists of invertebrates and the bodies of freshly killed animals. In captivity, the species will consume all but the skin, tail, and parts of the limbs of a small mammal; the brain is always eaten first. They also feed on frogs, toads and lizards.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Gestation lasts 27-30 days. Litter size varies from three to eleven young. At birth, young weigh 0.02-0.03 oz (0.8-0.9 g). The young open their eyes at 13 days. They are hairless for the first week and fully haired at 16 days. After weaning at around 17-22 days, the young are practically adults, ready to become independent. Young females of this species can conceive at approximately 30 days of age. The expected life span for this species is 34-38 months.

Common white-tooth shrew mothers and young have been observed in caravan, a behavior where a young shrew offspring of six days or older grabs onto the back of its mother, and other young shrews from the litter form a line of shrews by latching onto each other. May form monogamous pairs for breeding.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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