Significance to humans

Shrews may be valuable to agricultural communities as a form of natural control of insect pests due to their consumption of large numbers of insects and insect larvae. They also play a significant role in increasing the rate of litter decay.

Shrews are frequently used for neurological research and in other areas of biomedicine and evolutionary biology. They can also serve as useful indicators of environmental contamination such as heavy metals. Shrews feeding on earthworms in areas with heavy metals in the soil can accumulate significant levels of heavy metals in their tissues.

A lesser white-toothed shrew (Crocidura suaveolens) with young. (Photo by Andrew Cooper/Naturepl.com. Reproduced by permission.)

1. Ruwenzori shrew (Ruwenzorisorex suncoides); 2. Kelaart's long-clawed shrew (Feroculus feroculus); 3. Forest musk shrew (Sylvisorex mega-lura); 4. Piebald shrew (Diplomesodon pulchellum); 5. Schouteden's shrew (Paracrocidura schoutedeni). (Illustration by Gillian Harris)

1. Forest shrew (Myosorex varius); 2. Armored shrew (Scutisorex somereni); 3. Pearson's long-clawed shrew (Solisorex pearsoni); 4. Savi's pygmy shrew (Suncus etruscus); 5. Common European white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula). (Illustration by Gillian Harris)

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