Nature Table: The pygmy shrew

This is the smallest mammal in Ireland and one of the smallest in the world. Its maximum body weight is about 6g.

It used to be considered a native species but recent genetic evidence suggests it was accidentally introduced by early farmers between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago. Up until recently it was the only shrew species found in Ireland but in 2007 the greater white-toothed shrew was found to have established itself in Co Tipperary.

This species, which appears to have arrived in nursery plants from Holland, is three times the size of the pygmy shrew but has similar diet and habitat preferences, so there are concerns that it may displace the smaller species. Due to its small size the pygmy shrew has a rapid metabolic rate.


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