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554 illustration

Common shrew

Sorex araneus

The body is about 7 centimetres long, covered with dark brown velvety fur across its top and pale yellow or grey fur underneath. This mouse-like creature has a pointed and elongated snout, and tiny eyes are characteristic of all shrews. Its tail is about 4 centimetres long, and its teeth are tipped with red.

Shrews live mainly in woodlands throughout almost all of Europe and temperate Asia.

Solitary and active by day and night, its extremely high metabolism makes the shrew constantly hungry. It searches for food mainly among fallen leaves and humus and it eats invertebrates such as insects, arthropods, worms (often larger than itself), slugs, snails, and sometimes young mice and carrion.

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