Nov. 18, 2022



This podcast episode we talk about the Shrew! Relax, unwind, and join me in the temperate forests of Croatia, where we learn all about some of the sinister secrets of this venomous mole-like mammal.


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hello everyone welcome back to relax with the animal facts I am Steph wolf and today I am going to be learning with you about our furry scaly or possibly even slimy friends and in today's case it is definitely going to be a furry friend of ours because we are covering the %HESITATION so wonderful shrew this is a very special listener episode dedicated to Bella who wrote in and requested to this wonderful creature thank you brother for writing in and I hope you enjoy your very own episode for how to request your animal and your own episode as well as which resources were used for this episode all of that information is in the show notes with a description but it will also be covered at the very end of the episode for those of you that love to relax with animal facts podcast and would like more of it there are exclusive episodes that are uploaded to pay Treon patrie on dot com slash relax with animal facts and just one quick announcements before we hop into our episode I want to welcome Haley to the relax with animal facts team Haley is going to be writing articles for relax with animal facts under the articles section and those articles will be starting up very soon and now we are going to begin to slow down just a little bit as always there are two things that I must ask of you in this case we are not diving into the sea and so we can leave our scuba gear to the side but I ask that your shoes are on and tied on double knotted because today we are going to be tracking into some forests the second and maybe more important thing is for you to do your best Jello impersonation we all carry tension in different ways for one of you it might be in your head for another it might be in your shoulders we all differ in this way but my exhortation to each and every one of you is the same we do not really need any of that tension where we are going to do your best to relax your body and impersonate that piece of Jello and allow your mind to wander and the journey with me into this temperate forest in Croatia where the shrew resides this broadleaf forest in Croatia gives us a symphony of a natural orchestra the crunch of sticks and leaves underneath our feet the swing of these crooning to trees it all makes for quite a soundscape but while we are here in Croatia we could be in many other parts of Europe and even Asia the true has a large distribution including European countries like Albania Andorra Austria Belgium Bosnia Bulgaria Czech Republic as well as enjoying the forests in central east and western Asia the of course enjoy forests and temperate grasslands but some shrews will even enjoy parts of the tundra some of these European countries are not exactly the warmest but for the true this is no challenge now the shrew is in the family of Serie C. day as is frequently the case the scientific name can tell us something about the animal it's describing and the route toward story means mouse in Latin and to this creature does in fact bear resemblance to the mouse but they are not rodents like mice are but the truth of this family of Serie C. day includes any of more than three hundred and fifty species of insectivores that have a very mobile smelt covered with whiskers that are long and sensitive and overhanging their lower lips one of the easiest markers to tell apart a general mouse and the truth is that the shrew will have that long pointed snout mice of course have a different head shape and so while the lower half of the body might not distinguish them very well the upper half certainly does they will be about three to four inches long with a four inch tail weighing in at an average of one ounce they will live between one to two years of H. so the shrew is clearly not that large of a creature at least not relative to some of the large creatures we have covered on the show like hippos or giraffes but to their insect prey these are formidable giants they have teeth that are large incisors that are used like forceps to grab prey the upper pair of these incisors is hoped and the lower pair extends forward to create this chomping or trapping mechanism they are long slender and cylindrical in their body shape and sport clawed digits that are used for a variety of purposes that we will cover in just a moment they have eyes that are particularly small blood can usually be seen past their coat of fur there are also rounded and seem to blend in very well with their body now we learned the tail length of the common shrew blood we must keep in mind that there are many shrews in fact more than three hundred and fifty different kinds of shrews there is the short tailed shrew which of course is not going to support that three inch long tail but considerably smaller so for our purposes today we will be covering mostly the common shrew the differences between males and females in shrews are not very succinct it is not immediately obvious to the human eye especially to the untrained human eyes to spot the difference between the two now this creature opts for a better sense of smell unfortunately at the detriment of their intelligence the cerebral hemispheres of the shrews brain or small but the olfactory lobes that are responsible for smell are much more prominent instead the shrews have no need of working out the inner world of quantum mechanics nor do they have to memorize periodic tables and enhanced sense of smell is going to be of much more use to the shrew than anything else in terms of behavior the common shrew is a very solitary creature who preferred to spend much of its time alone and doing its own thing in hunting and sleeping they love being solitary so much that this animal will fiercely defend its home range against any outsiders that term home range refers generally to the area in which a creature will spend all of its time so if an animal's home range is one kilometer it means that it will spend its time hunting sleeping roaming around within that one calamity %HESITATION and as is often the case and as is the case with the shrew they will defend this home range as best as they can another behavior of the common true is that they are generally nocturnal I see generally because I am not able to say totally they will on average spend more time hunting and roaming around during the night time bye they can be active during both the day and the night and often are it will rest during alternate periods of time during the twenty four hour day forming a style of work that would be really interesting if replicated in humans this sleep pattern is interesting to think about in terms of us as human beings let's imagine you go to work for three hours then you come home and sleep for an hour and a half and then go back and work again and come back to sleep again this sounds ridiculously exhausting and north of hold time of fission at least as we humans are concerned so I have no scruples about relinquishing this style of work to the shrew it seems to work for them quite well they will spend about an hour to two hours on average searching and hunting after which the shrew will rest often times in its nest they will sometimes opt to sleep wherever they can or wherever is comfortable that's really mobile knows that it has paired with sensitive whiskers gives them a lot of information as to what is going on in the world while they're looking around they will also give their characteristic high pitched whines or sounds with their claws they will either dig burrows or simply use one that is left over from the hard work of another shrew or by another small mammal they created their own system of runways in the vegetation beating all the traffic by simply creating their own highways they have extraordinarily high metabolisms now before we go on there is another word that we often take for granted or one in which we use all the time but it would be hard pressed if asked to give a definition what is metabolism exactly we imported that word from the French which the French imported from the Greek metabolite all that word means in the Greek language is a change and so what is going on in metabolism is a change specifically a change from food into energy food by biological process these are converted into energy the calories that we ingest through food as well as through certain drinks mix with oxygen to make the energy that the body needs to function so when we say that the shrew has a high metabolism it means that they convert food into energy very quickly the consequences of this is that they will constantly need nourishment they will need to intake food to supplement the speed at which it is converted into energy other animals that have very slow metabolisms like the sloth or quality for example are able to eat large amounts at one time in which they just lay back and allow their bodies to do their thing the shrew however has to eat every three to four hours to maintain energy as well as body heat shrooms are primarily insectivores as we learned in the beginning of the show what distinguishes insectivores from carnivores is not that they both feed on flash or other animals it is that the living animals that are primarily consumed or those of small invertebrates and insects the shrew however is known from time to time to prey on small mammals and sometimes even enjoy a vegetable dish of some kind so some of the things that they E. to include beetles snails grubs grasshoppers nuts and seeds seedlings mice and vegetation so they have a very wide range of options to eat from now we learn to just a moment ago that when they are rummaging around on the ground they will use that little nose of theirs in combination with whiskers and with small high pitched noise Mrs and the reasons they are making those noises and the reason they are making these noises while looking around is because it gives them something from the environment and animals use of sound to determine locations of anything in their environment is defined as echo location we've learned about other creatures that use echolocation like bats for example the more information about one's environment the better and to the shrew implements echolocation in its discovery of the world around it now while the true might look small they are actually one of the most voracious mammalian predators that we have on earth we must simply be grateful that they are the size that they are in the United Kingdom specifically there are about fifty shrews per hectare of woodland that's about two point five acres this indicates that in the United Kingdom alone countrywide there are more than forty million shrews and their way of navigating the world is not at all ineffective researchers experimented with dummy pray objects to see just how discerning the shrew can be they would place plastic objects of different sizes and of different shapes and found that the test shrews would attack plastic replicas of crickets but the knowledge of other plastic objects of a similar size they would alter the shape of these plastic crickets by gluing on additional body parts and it revealed that the jumping legs or the giveaway for the shrew as to what to attack and what not to attack on this plastic cricket while the head was pretty inconsequential and would result in them just walking right past it many shrew species are venomous researchers have found that an individual shrew stores enough venom to kill two hundred mice some shrews will use this venom for something known as life hoarding now this might be one of the more terrifying mechanisms that animals employ and here is how the shrew employees it they do not have the hollow fangs that other creatures like venomous snakes have to inject venom but they instead have a Kelan allows saliva to flow with venom so when the truth finds its prey which is often an invertebrate insect but remember it could also be a very small mouse or vertebrate it will begin to blighted and allow the venomous saliva to flow into the wound the venom of the shrew has a paralytic a fact which stops the creature from moving but retains the consciousness of the creature and so its prey that is very much alive but cannot move will be moved by the shrew to some sort of a cache or storage unit that they have that is available for them whenever hunting is not going so well on a certain day having this organic storage unit for little invertebrates or vertebrates insures that they have a meal ready to go whenever they'd like now shrew bites on humans are reportedly painful but will indeed fade away in just a few days so this live hoarding mechanism I did not expect to see in the shrew but hiding behind that cute little face is some seriously sinister stuff now let us go through some short little factoids about the shrew when they %HESITATION looking for food they are able to detect prey as deep as twelve centimeters beneath the ground this is a very impressive distance and can be chalked up to its ways of locating different things with their whiskers nose and echolocation the razor sharp teeth of the truth does not to grow continuously which is a stark difference between them and rodents they will eat between eighty to ninety percent of their body weight per day and with this hefty diet they grabbed fourth place in the world for most successful family of mammals when we say most successful we are referring specifically to the population so the success of the shrew in reference specifically to their reproductive success is very high and in terms of reproduction the shrews will have baby shrews one two three times per year typically opting for the warmer months after just station period of only about twenty one days so three weeks a female shrew will give birth to two to ten young at one time so we see why exactly they can be given the title of fourth most successful mammal on earth the heart of the shrew can beat up to seven hundred beats per minute for reference human beings have an average of about seventy beats per minute this would make their heart beat on average about ten times faster than us now let us move on to the name of the animal shrew where does that come from or what does it mean the term shrew is used to describe a small insectivorous mammal and apparently goes back to an Old English word scree wanna which means shrew mouse and this Old English word has an entirely uncertain origin the Oxford English Dictionary which is one of the greatest authorities when it comes to the English language Coles the absence of the word shrew when used in the specific animal sense remarkable the term shrew was often used but was used in a derogatory or insulting way rather than as a biological distinction for a creature the term shrew would be flown at somebody that a person deemed a rascal and evil doer and undisciplined child and others it could go all the way back to a middle high German word sh rule or sh Rowell I'm sorry if I am butchering that but this word means devil the word was used as early as the thirteenth century and was used to describe any sense of a spiteful person whether male or female and supposedly you could be derived from the fact that the shrew has a venomous bite as we have learned on previous episodes sometimes etymologies or not all clean and hampered sometimes etymologies are not clean cut and wonderfully ordered language can be a messy process and the way by which languages change is not always well documented and so it is in the case of the shrew now let us move on to the review portion of the episode this review is written by Karen in Ohio who wrote in all the way from the United States of America specifically from Columbus Ohio and Karen writes thanks for the delightful podcast Steph's voices calm and evokes the sweetness which I think is indicative of his enjoyment in percent in this podcast as well as his genuine interest in animals would love an episode featuring the bush baby my daughter who lives several states away in Montana has also begun listening it's another way for us to connect thank you very much Karen for leaving that review there is such an abundance of kindness in this message and I am so glad that this podcast can have any sort of a fact like this in your life and in the lives of all of you listening I am also glad Karen that you and your daughter component moreover this podcast and so I give a shout out to Karen's daughter in Montana you guys rock and your listenership means the world if you enjoy the show and the show gives you any bit of enjoyment or even if you don't like the show very much and would like to tell me why leaving a review is one of the best ways that you can help grow the show and make it better your participation by joining me in the oceans in the forests and in the mountains is gift enough but if you were stirred up by generosity and would like to help the show this is one of the best ways to do so if you would like to request an animal for the show you can do so in one of three ways you can send a message to relax with animal facts on Instagram you can go to relax with animal facts dot com and click on the animal request tab and lastly you could always send an email to relax with animal facts at the G. mail dot com I look forward to all of your requests and have always enjoyed learning about what animal you love if you would like more of the relaxed with animal facts podcast including exclusive episode about extinct animals mythical animals and possibly many other kinds you can join the patriot on by clicking on the Patreon link below in the description or by going to Petri on dot com slash relax with animal facts the facts that were used in this episode come from how the heart dot com blog dot nature dot org and a million dollars to bio and at him online dot com this episode would not have been possible without all of their contributions I am of course not in myself a library of encyclopedic information but I rely on the solid contribution of others in order to make these episodes thank you all for joining me in this temperate forest in Croatia the humble shrew was hiding so many secrets behind its little furry self and I am so glad that we got to explore all of those today I hope that you will all join me on the next podcast episode with the next animal take care