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Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus)

Diputación de Málaga
Musgaño enano o musarañita

Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus)

Reproduction Zeal Topping Hibernation
Animal Life > Mammals


This small insectivore is 3 to 5 cm long (head and body); it has long nose with obvious sensory hairs. They have silky, shiny dark brown-grey fur with some reddish shades on the back and light hairs on the stomach. Their head is big in comparison with their body. The big round ears are rather prominent. Their eyes are very small. The tail is from 1.5 to 2.5 cm long and covered in hair. There are hardly any differences between males and females.


This species is typical in farming areas and those with Mediterranean vegetation at an altitude lower than one thousand metres. They need clearings or groves with some plants. It is rather common in olive groves, abandoned farms or clear oak forests.

How They Live

They have high metabolic rate. They are active throughout the year and almost twenty-four hours a day. At night, they alternate torpor with activity. They eat double their weight every day. Their life span is shorter than 18 months. They mostly feed off invertebrates, such as beetles, centipede, spiders, worms, slugs, etc. They can eat insects that are larger than them, the same as some lizards. It has been proved that they bite olives on the ground in olive groves and eat their pulp and oil. These are rather aggressive animals, which fights other shrews for prey and territory, especially in winter, when there is less food.


Shrews use rocks and holes under stones to roost. Females are in heat between April or May and October. They give births when it is warm. One female can give birth between five and six times a year and have from two to six babies each time. Their high productivity makes up for the short life span.
The young weigh one quarter of adult's weight and have no hair or hearing. They suckle for three weeks and become sexually mature one winter after they their birth.

Places Where They Can Be Seen

This species is numerous in Málaga but it is difficult to see it. It lives in its common habitats like bushes and olive grove. It can be found on the Costa del Sol, in La Axarquía, Los Montes de Cortes, in the area of the Guadiaro, in the centre of the province, and so on. It can be seen along the following stages of the Great Málaga Path: from1 to 7, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22, 26, 31, 32 and 33.


Females teach the young to explore their territory in single line with her like caterpillars do. They also behave like this when the female needs to change the roost because of some danger. This is the origin of a legend which talks about this animal as a fury snake which cannot hunt because it is old and feeds off human milk so therefore it has hair.

Similar Species

This species cannot be confused with others due to its size. It is much smaller than a normal shrew, although it looks like it. It is clearly different than mice because they do not have a long nose.
It hardly ever leaves any trace as it weighs very little. They are tiny (5 to 7 mm long and 4 mm wide). They leave prints of their five toes and sometimes a curvy trace or the tail. Their excrement cannot be seen due to its small size.

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