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Haus der Natur

Tireless bug-eaters

Shrews - unlike mice - are neither rodents nor herbivores. They have small, pointed teeth and feed on earthworms, insects, larvae and snails. Because they look like mice they are called shrews. Actually they are more closely related to moles and hedgehogs.

Common (or Wood) Shrews are very active and need a lot of energy. They do not hibernate and are constantly busy searching for food. In winter they reduce their height and weight so that they need less energy. Even their bones and organs shrink, only to grow again in spring. This process of shrinking and re-growth is congenital. Every shrew experiences it only once, however, because they only live to a maximum of 13 months.

Wood shrews have poor eyesight, but can hear, smell and feel all the better. In addition, like bats, they use ultrasonic sounds to orient themselves by echo-location.

Wood shrews are loners, who guard their precincts strictly. At mating-time, however, the males roam around looking for females. In order to give birth and raise her 4 to 8 offspring the female builds a dome-shaped nest near good sources of food. These can be, for example, species-rich gardens, like here at the 'Haus der Natur'.