Shrews (Family Soricidae)
A shrew or shrew mouse (Family Soricidae) is a small mammal classified
in the Order Soricomorpha. Shrews are distributed almost worldwide: of
the major tropical and temperate land masses, only New Guinea,
Australia, and New Zealand do not have native shrews at all; in South
America, shrews are relatively recent immigrants and are present only
in the far north. In terms of species diversity, the shrew family is the
fourth most successful of the mammal families, being rivalled only by
the rodent Families Muridae and Cricetidae and the bat Family
Although its external appearance is generally that of a long-nosed mouse,
a shrew is not a rodent, as mice are, and not closely related to rodents.
Shrew feet have five toes; rodent feet have four, and shrews have sharp,
spike-like teeth, not the familiar gnawing front incisor teeth of rodents.
All shrews are comparatively small, most no more than mouse size. The
largest species is the house shrew (Suncus murinus) of tropical Asia
which is about 15 cm long and weighs around 100 grams; several are
very small, notably the Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus) which at
about 3.5 cm and 2 grams is the smallest living terrestrial mammal.
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