Saturday, May 28, 2011


Last night while watching David Attenborough's wonderful series Life of Mammals, I learned that shrew families (mothers with babies), when startled, will latch onto each others rumps with their little sharp teeth and run away in a conga line. It is called "caravanning" and it is ADORABLE and also kind of snake-like. You can watch some stock video of this phenomenon right here.

And here is a little photo I found of shrews caravanning:

(Photo from Dr. Osamu Matsuzaki's ethology lab at the University of Tsukuba.)

The caravanning alone made shrews my new favorite beast. But there are a lot of other interesting things about shrews too! Shrews are vicious hunters and voracious eaters, and must constantly munch on bugs because of their crazy metabolic rates. They have to eat their weight every day! Some shrews are venemous, and others use echolocation. In the winter, some shrews go into torpor, a temporary hibernation in which metabolic rate and body temperature are lowered. The shrew also has an impressive brain-to-body ratio. What all shrews definitely have in common is a ridiculously cute nose that wiggles when they eat.

Elephant Shrews, or sengis, like the creature in the video below, are actually not closely related to True Shrews (it was recently discovered). BUT they also have adorable noses.


  1. Nice unexpected post! I'm a shrew fan too since they have so many unusual characteristics. I recall as a kid seeing this black and white sci-fi film where the "monsters" were lion-sized shrews! Now that was scary!!

  2. Ha! That sounds like a pretty amazing film, Albertus! :) Shrews are pretty cool little beasties--I hope to meet one in person one day.