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Has any zoo successfully exhibited shrews?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by DavidBrown, 29 Jun 2015.

  1. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    There are apparently 385 shrew species in the world. Most Zoochatters are probably familiar with what shrews are, but how many of us have seen them alive?

    They are notoriously difficult to keep alive in captivity from what I have read because of their extreme metabolisms. They also hide underground or leaf litter for most or all of their lives.

    Given these challenges, are there any actual shrew exhibits in the zoo world where zoo visitors can see a live shrew species?

    Has anybody here seen a live shrew, and if so, what were the circumstances?
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I've seen Javanese shrew Crocidura maxi on Flores, Asian house shrew Suncus murinus in India, and Chinese mole-shrew Anourosorex squamipes in China.

    Some European species, at least, have been kept in zoos. The following photo by Maguari shows a water shrew (to the left of the photo):

    [​IMG]
     
  3. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Apart from Tree and Elephant Shrews, which presumably you are discounting, I have sadly never seen a (true) shrew, or an exhibit for one. I guess they fall in the tiny-mammal category (commonly referred to as "mouse"), which zoos seem to have developed strong avoidance behaviours towards...
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    tree shrews and elephant shrews are, of course, completely unrelated to actual shrews - and both are easy to keep in captivity.

    The difficulty in keeping shrews isn't so much to do with their "boring mouse-iness" but with their extremely high metabolic rate. They need to eat pretty much constantly, and will starve to death within a short period of time without access to food (most sources will say "overnight", "within a day", etc, but I have also read "within a few hours"). They will kill and eat each other as well. The amount of food they have to consume per day is somewhere between 80% and 300% of their body weight (again, depending on source material!).
     
  5. Ituri

    Ituri Well-Known Member

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  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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  7. Bib Fortuna

    Bib Fortuna Well-Known Member

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    Tama-Zoo Tokio has a"Mole House"and keeps there moles and some species of shrews, including water shrews.
     
  8. MikeG

    MikeG Well-Known Member

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    Moscow Zoo has successfully kept and bred the Piebald Shrew (Diplomesodon pulchellum) for many years, but I think they have always been held off-exhibit. Moscow also currently holds the Common Eurasian Shrew (Sorex araneus).
    Tokyo Ueno and Plzen zoos currently hold the Asian House/Musk Shrew (Suncus murinus), but the Plzen specimens are off-exhibit.
    In the UK, both Slimbridge and the Wildwood Trust hold the European Water Shrew (Neomys fodiens).
     
  9. zoo_enthusiast

    zoo_enthusiast Well-Known Member

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    Philadelphia Zoo exhibited least shrews as recently as 2013 (and may still exhibit them), though I never actually saw one (their terrarium had deep leaf litter and they were always hiding)
     
  10. baboon

    baboon Well-Known Member

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    An Asian grey shrew in Hainan Province, China. We found it during a night spotlighting in a botanic garden.
    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile, I had even seen a shrew running across the snow-cover in a conifer forest in Northeast China during the coldest month.

    I think the several water shrew species may be fantastic species if it can be exhibited.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2015
  11. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    A pretty good summary of the state of captive shrews in Europe methinks :) worth noting that the European Water Shrew holdings are on-display, and that a number of Zoochatters (including myself) have seen the taxon there.
     
  12. bongorob

    bongorob Well-Known Member

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    Offhand I can think of London and Tel Aviv University zoos breeding shrews in the past.

    I've seen tho wild shrews, one in my garden and one in the blackburn Pavillion at London Zoo.

    The Bartlett Society UK first mammal breeding list has four shrew species shown as known to have been captive bred.

    Greater White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura russula) 1978 Londoon Zoo
    Lesser White-toothed Shrew (Crocidura suaveolens) 1974 Wheathampstead Zoo
    Asian House Shrew (Suncus murinus) London zoo 1931
    Common Shrew (Sorex araneus) 1973 Wheathampstead Zoo

    Wheathampstead Zoo was owned by the naturalist Graeme Dangerfield.

    Dangerfield's Private Zoo - British Path
     
  13. savethelephant

    savethelephant Well-Known Member

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    @zoo_enthusiast,

    the Phili zoo holds Red and rofous elephant shrew.
     
  14. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Of course, as already noted by Chli;

     
  15. Brum

    Brum Well-Known Member

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    I've seen the afore-mentioned water shrew at Slimbridge, after a lot of cursing mind you. Those things are bloody fast! ;)

    Also seen a wild one in my grandparents kitchen as a nipper and a dead one that one of the cats caught and brought home for us. That's it for me and shrews unfortunately! :(
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2015
  16. MikeG

    MikeG Well-Known Member

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    According to ZIMS, the Wildlife World Zoo (Litchfield Park, Arizona) holds a group of Least Shrews (Cryptotis parva).
     
  17. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    Besancon in France is supposed to keep greater white-toothed shrew shrews (Crocidura russula)....

    I have seen greater white-toothed shrews, water shrews & European pygmy shrews in the wild, eg without life traps. And I have caught 5 species of shrew with life traps and handled them, these include all three before mentioned species, bicolored shrew and common shrew. I find shrews very fascinating creatures and their metabolism and appetite never cease to amaze me....
     
  18. temp

    temp Well-Known Member

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    A bit of google scholar searching interestingly reveals that there have been several recent studies of shrews that were based on captive breeding colonies. These include Asian house shrew, Etruscan shrew, water shrew, greater white-toothed shrew and others.

    I found the following particularly interesting but there were several others relating to this subject:

    Water shrew - relatively brief but nicely illustrated description on keeping and breeding this species.

    Asian house shrew - mentions that laboratory colonies are considered to be rather solitary, but pet breeders typically consider the species as fairly social: It can be housed and bred in pairs and family groups, and when this is done they may rest together! All information I've found for other shrew species recommends keeping them alone, except during breeding of course.

    In addition to relatively large amounts of food, shrews are very short-lived. If breeding fails the first and second year after getting the species it may already be too late.

    Evidently captive breeding isn't a new thing either. In the Etruscan shrew zootierliste mentions that Frankfurst had the species in 1970-1976 with breeding three of the years. Zootierliste also mentions other species with captive zoo breeding, but provide less details in most of those cases.
     
  19. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    I've seen and handled wild Eurasian Water Shrew, Pygmy Shrew and Common Shrew :) and have preserved skeletons of the latter two taxa, too.

    You are definitely right when you say they are a fascinating group - as are the closely related moles, of course.
     
  20. Maguari

    Maguari Never could get the hang of Thursdays. Premium Member

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    Yep, I've seen water shrews at the British Wildlife Centre and several times at Slimbridge. Gentle lemur's pictures from Slimbridge are much better than mine, though: http://www.zoochat.com/513/water-shrew-364562/, http://www.zoochat.com/513/water-shrew-feeding-364565/

    Other than that, I've only seen live shrews once - a mother and at least two young Common Shrews on Bleaklow last year - see dodgy photo below!
     

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