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Greater White-Toothed Shrew (Crocidura russula)

Diputación de Málaga
Musaraña común SX RZ

Greater White-Toothed Shrew (Crocidura russula)

Reproduction Zeal Topping Hibernation
Animal Life > Mammals


It is an insectivore (small and night animal, only feeding on insects) of small size (head-body length 5 to 8,6 cm) similar to a mouse but with shorter legs and a long characteristic snout with whiskers (sensorial hair). It presents a conical aspect, with the head and the snout with finer end. The tail (2 to 5 cm) is long and covered with hair. It has visible rounded ears on the head.  The legs are naked and very thin. The coat is greyish brown, lighter on the belly. There is no significant differences between both sexes.

Where does it live?

It is a very common and abundant species in Málaga. Generalist and present in almost all types of habitats, with optimum in humid forests such as deciduous and riverside woods, parks and gardens with irrigation. It is present in rural environments, near stables and barns, in meadows and orchards, in bush boundaries and forests, and in general in all kinds of places where there is leaf litter or herbaceous cover on the ground, a certain degree of humidity and food. It lives from sea level to high mountains.

How does it live?

This animal can act as a man's eater. It feeds on insects and invertebrates (slugs and worms), and can even catch small reptiles. It has a high metabolic rate. It must consume a quantity of insects equivalent to 50% of its weight per day; that is why they are effective pest controllers. They are very territorial in summer and more tolerant in winter, being able to share nests with other shrews.  They can have daytime habits, although they more commonly are a nocturnal and dusk species. Their life expectancy is short. They do not reach one year of life.

How does it reproduce?

The shrew mating period occur between the end of winter and the end of autumn, concentrating in May and June.   They have about 3 to 4 litters distributed throughout the year, except in the coldest months. From 2 to 8 offspring are born in each litter. The females are very territorial and aggressive. The males, more tolerant, are in charge of the paternal care of the offspring.  The nests are usually set in tree holes, between rocks or in stone walls.

Where can we see it in Málaga?

It is a very common and abundant species in the Málaga province. It is present and can be seen in almost all stages of the Great Path (Gran Senda). It is often observed in parks and gardens of large cities and can be a prey to domestic cats living in houses with gardens or near rural areas.

Curious facts

Shrews are tale animals. They are considered poisonous and magical, more dangerous than vipers because they could poison a human just by touching him. They were captured for extermination. When one of them was caught, it was walled in an ash tree as it was believed that it transmitted its evil powers to the tree. Then the new branches of the ash were cut and burned, neutralizing the animal's evil. With the ashes an ointment was made that could be applied to the bites to clean it up. It has even been told that "thinking about shrews" was being distracted and wasting time. However, shrews are not poisonous or malefic animals. It is quite the contrary. They are very beneficial for humans as pest controllers. They are also the food base of many raptors and Mediterranean predators.

Similar species

It is a very characteristic species. It can be confused with the water shrews, which have a shorter and rounded snout and are aquatic. It can also be mistaken with mice, from which it clearly differs having shorter legs and a conical look with its elongated snout.

Routes where it can be observed

More information