A shrew’d start to events…

Before leaving for Cropthorne this afternoon, I decided to water the veg patch. Look who turned up, sniffing his way through the soil, undergrowth, and even the sole of my shoe…

Shrew in the veg patch

Shrew in the veg patch

Shrew in the veg patch

Shrew in the veg patch

The shrew burrowing into the soil for insects

The shrew burrowing into the soil for insects

Shrew sniffing along the path

Shrew sniffing along the path

I was not sure whether it was a common shrew or pygmy shrew – so I posted the top two pictures onto the Mammal Society’s Facebook page, to ask for expert opinion on it. This drew a unanimous response… one person wrote, “the lighter strip of fur on the sides is typical of commons, rather than pygmies; commons are known as tri-coloured in this way”, while another said “It’s very young but I’d say three shades of colour = common”.

Watching it constantly on the move, sniffing and probing everywhere it went, investigating every crevice in the soil, made me realise that the life of a shrew must be quite hard: it needs to eat its own body-weight in insects every day, just in order to survive. I suspect what it drew it out from the safety of the hawthorn hedge was my watering the garden with a hose, providing softer soil to probe for food.

I was already in last-minute mode for preparing to go on the retreat, so the shrew delayed things further. As it happened, the rehearsal for the deacons’ ordination took longer than expected, so I arrived there at the same time that almost everyone else did!

3 thoughts on “A shrew’d start to events…

    • It’s a common shrew – see the discussion above (extended since I first posted a few days ago). Its geographical distribution, shown on the IUCN red list site, is from the UK, across into northern, central and eastern Europe and into central Russia.

      I also owe you a decent reply to your last two emails! 🙂

  1. Looks like this story has a sad ending. I’ve just picked up a dead shrew from the front garden at the top of the drive: judging by its injuries it was caught by a cat and dropped (shrews secrete a liquid that cats hate). At 3.7g it was very underweight for a shrew.

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