Pygmy Shrew

Sorex minutus

  1. Wildlife
  2. Mammals
  3. Pygmy Shrew

About

A small insectivorous mammal with tiny eyes and a large nose giving it keen sense of smell. Shrews live life in the fast lane, hectically snuffling through the undergrowth for their prey, which includes earthworms, spiders and chrysalises. Pygmy Shrews can be found in most habitats. Active by day and night, they are very territorial and aggressive for their size and can sometimes be heard fighting, their high pitched squeaks particularly noticeable during the summer. Adults may only live for a year, just long enough to have one or two litters of around six young.

How to identify

Shrews can be distinguished from mice and voles by their tiny eyes, very small ears and pointy faces. Pygmy Shrews are smaller than Common Shrews, but their tails are two-thirds the length of their bodies, making them proportionally longer. They also have smaller, narrower snouts. Pygmy Shrews are normally dark brown on the back and grey or silver underneath.

Where to find it

Widespread, found everywhere except for the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly, Shetland and some parts of Orkney.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The small size of the Pygmy Shrew makes it particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events like those associated with climate change. The loss of our hedgerows, field margins and other habitats due to changes in agricultural practices is also a threat to this species. Working with farmers and landowners to ensure wildlife-friendly practices, The Wildlife Trusts are working towards a Living Landscape: a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Pygmy Shrew
Latin name
Sorex minutus
Category
Mammals
Statistics
Length: 5cm (plus a tail of about 4cm) Weight: 2-6g Average lifespan: 1-1/2 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.