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I Dream Africa provides a comprehensive directory of activities, hot spots, top locations etc. in Namibia. Combined with the directory, I Dream Africa also provides tour packages allowing clients to experience Namibia at its best.
Shrews, Hedgehog & Moles
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Shrews, Hedgehogs & Moles

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ELEPHANT SHREWS

Elephant shrews (not actually shrews) and found mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Characteristics including long snouts and herbivorous dental structures, separate them from Insectivora. A wide range of habitats can be explained by their ability to maintain high body temperatures, whilst covering large distances using 'ricochetal locomotion' - made possible by their long hind legs. Elephant shrews are therefore able to survive in regions that vary from arid to tropical.

BUSHVELD ELEPHANT SHREW

Introduction: The bushveld elephant shrew (Elephantulus intufi) is found in areas with an annual rainfall of lower than 500mm, often observed in scrub bush with light grass cover growing from a sandy base. This is ideal bushveld elephant shrew habitat, as it can hop in and out of this type of vegetation at some speed. The low bushes not only provide cover but also form the base for a single burrow, with much-used trails branching out towards feeding areas.

Distribution: Most of Namibia including Etosha National Park, the central highlands and much of southern Namibia. Not found in the Namib Desert, the north-eastern parts of the country or the Orange River regions.

Diet: Insects predominately ants. Bushveld elephant shrews are able to catch grasshoppers, carrying them under cover to eat.

Coloring: Pale brown fur with white rings around the eyes and a distinctive russet patch under the ears.

Breeding: Usually twins.

Size: Total length of head and body 240mm, tail 250mm.

Weight: 50g.

ROUND-EARED ELEPHANT SHREW


Introduction: Unlike the Bushveld elephant shrew, the round-eared elephant shrew (Macroscelides proboscideus) can survive in areas with a mean average rainfall of less than 250mm. They are found in desert and semi-desert regions, usually in rocky areas with low bushes and open thorn bush on gravel or sandy plains.

The round-eared elephant shrew stores their food in their cheek pouches and head for cover to eat. The cheeks are an identification feature not found in other elephant shrews, but they do not have the characteristic eye rings of their counterparts. Their ears are very broad and round as well as being hairy on the inside. They do not need to drink, as they find sufficient moisture in their food intake. Foot-drumming is a common form of communication.

Distribution: Western and southern regions of Namibia in particular the Namib Desert.

Diet: Ants, termites and spiders. Fruit, soft shoots and green plant matter.

Coloring: Variable, but predominately brown fur.

Breeding: The round-eared elephant shrew breed from September to February with 1 or 2 young born after a gestation period of 8 weeks. Young are independent of the female from 3 to 4 weeks, when they become independent and seek their own territories.

Size: Total length of 230mm. Weight: 40g.

SHORT-SNOUTED ELPHANT SHREW


Introduction: The short-snouted elephant shrew (Elephantulus brachyrynchus) is slightly shorter than other elephant shrews because of a shorter snout, hence the name. It is a fast runner, most active at dawn when they scurry from cover to cover. Foot-drumming is also a characteristic of this shrew. Another feature is scent glands behind the ears, which come into contact with the ground when they roll down the sand, dispersing a secretion on the ground and over themselves at the same time.

Distribution: Far north-eastern Namibia only, including the Caprivi Strip and Kavango River regions.

Diet: Ants and termites, grasshoppers and crickets.

Coloring: Varied brown body fur, with white, buffy or off-white rings around the eyes, upper lip and brownish-yellow patches behind the ears.

Breeding: Females have the capacity to produce 5 or 6 litters per year with 1 or 2 young. A survival feature of the newly-born short-snouted elephant shrew is that they are fully-furred and their eyes are open at birth, and can run almost immediately after birth.

Size: Total length of 210mm, tail roughly the same length.

Weight: 44g.

SMITH’S ROCK ELEPHANT SHREW

Introduction: Smith's rock elephant shrew (Elephantulus rupestris) is so named as it frequents koppies and rocky habitats, ideal for seeking refuge in semi-desert regions.
They propel themselves by bouncing off the ground using their larger hind legs, a feature used to travel distances quite quickly to escape predators. A territorial creature, individuals of the same sex can show aggressive behavior towards each other, a trait that is common between males and females. Foot-drumming and scent marking are common communicative characteristics of Smith's rock elephant shrew.

Distribution: Central highlands of Namibia and Kaokoland.

Diet: Ants and termites, but may eat certain vegetative matter.

Coloring: Light brown fur. Narrow white eye rings, with a distinctive broad patch of rufous/yellow hair at the base of the ears. The proboscis is grey-brown with a narrow, dark line at the top.

Breeding: Females can produce several litters a year of 1 or 2 young.

Size: Total body length of 270mm with a longer tail. Weight: 65g.

SHREWS

All Namibian shrews belong to the Afro-oriental Crocidura, a subfamily of white-toothed shrews with a unique behavioral trait called caravanning. This is where the young hang on to each other and the mother, from just 1 week after birth until weaning takes place between 18 to 24 days.

GIANT MUSK SHREW

Introduction: Very little is known about the giant musk shrew (Crocidura occidentalis). It's preferred habitat tends to be near streams, swamps, semi-aquatic reedbeds and other areas of dense cover such as on the fringes of montane forest. It is a predominately nocturnal creature with some carnivore behavior recorded.

Distribution: Kavango river regions of Namibia and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Diet: Small vertebrates such as birds and mammals.

Coloring: Buffy-brown to dark brown fur.

Breeding: A litter size of 4 is believed to normal, with reproductive interaction between November and January.

Size: Head and body length of 125mm, tail 75mm. Weight: 35-50g.

LESSER RED MUSK SHREW

Introduction: The lesser red musk shrew (Crocidura hirta) is a predominately nocturnal creature, known to be fairly active in the morning and at dusk. Their habitat range is reasonably diverse from mountain forest, savannah and Kalahari woodland to bushveld, but in the cover of debris such as garden refuse or dead wood. Self-grooming is done by scratching itself with the hind feet and using the forepaws for face-washing. They make saucer shaped nests from grass, usually under cover. Predators include the grass owl and the barn owl, as well as the black-necked cobra.

Distribution: North-eastern and south-eastern Kalahari

Desert areas of Namibia. Caprivi Strip, Chobe River and Okavango Delta.

Diet: Snails and termites.

Coloring: Creamish-brown fur.

Breeding: Male and female lesser red musk shrews breed between September to May. Gestation period is around 22 days and litter sizes are between 2 and 5.

Size: Head and body length 90mm, tail 50mm. Weight: 16g.

REDDISH-GREY MUSK SHREW


Introduction: The reddish-grey musk shrew (Crocidura cyanea) has a wide habitat range including mountain forest, grassland, savannah and rocky outcrops. It is also a cave-dweller, living in and around the entrance to caves. They are predominately a nocturnal creature, who lives a solitary existence.

Distribution: The central highlands of Namibia.

Diet: Insects such as beetles, crickets and scorpions. Bat carcasses.

Coloring: Grey to grey-brown in colour.

Breeding: Litter size varies from 2 to 6 and the young are particularly vulnerable to barn owls.

Size: Head and body length of about 76mm. Tail 50mm.

Weight: 9g.

SWAMP MUSK SHREW

Introduction: As it's name suggests, the swamp musk shrew (Crocidura mariquensis) is found mainly in Namibia's swampy habitats. A characteristic of this shrew are splayed digits of its hind limbs, a feature that has allowed it to adapt to marshy areas. Predators include the fiscal shrike, barn owl and grass owls.

Distribution: Marshy and open-water habitats of the Kavango River, Okavango Delta, Kwando River, Linyati Marshes and Zambezi River.

Diet: Snails and termites.

Coloring: Dark and black fur.

Breeding: Litters range from 2 to 7 but are usually 3 or 4. The breeding season lasts from August to April.

Size: Head and body length of 80mm, tail 56mm. Weight: 11g.

TINY MUSK SHREW

Introduction: The tiny musk shrew (Crocidura fuscomurina) is the smallest of the Crocidura species found in Namibia and like other shrews is nocturnal, solitary and terrestrial, behavior that complements it's diet. They are born hairless and typical development from the second week onwards includes the ability to climb vertically, scratching, yawning, sniffing and wiping. Their eyes are open in under 2 weeks and solids can be eaten within 3 weeks. If required the mother will carry her young in her mouth.

Distribution: North-eastern Namibian Kalahari Desert.

Diet: Moths and a variety of other insects.

Coloring: Grey-brown fur.

Breeding: Litter sizes vary between 2 and 5, with weaning occurring 18 to 24 days after birth.

Size: Head and body length of 55mm, tail 36mm. Weight: 5g.

HEDGEHOGS

SOUTH AFRICAN HEDGEHOG


Introduction: The South African hedgehog (Erinaceus frontalis) is so called to distinguish it from other species in Africa and of the world. It is an unmistakable mammal with its covering of short spines. The coat extends from the forehead, round behind the ears and covers the whole of the upper parts of their bodies. They occur in a wide variety of habitats and are often found in gardens, as they require dry cover for resting and in which to have their young, at the same time providing a plentiful supply of insects and other food.

They are predominantly nocturnal creatures and large numbers are killed at night on roads. They move around slowly, but are capable of a surprisingly good turn of speed by rising on their hind legs as they run. They have an acute sense of smell and hearing, advantages when it comes to locating food, as their sight is generally poor.

Distribution: They occur in the north-western and central parts of Namibia, but not as far as into the coastal Namib Desert.

Diet: These hedgehogs eat a wide variety of food and they are partial to small mice, lizards and the eggs of chicks of ground living birds as well as frogs and slugs, but the bulk of their food includes beetles, termites, centipedes and millipedes, grasshoppers, moths and earthworms.

Coloring: The short spines are white at the base, with a broad black or dark brown band in the middle and white or buffy tips. The face, limbs and tails are covered with dark brown or grayish-brown hair, with a white band of white hair across their foreheads.

Breeding: Size of litters varies from 1 to 9, averaging around 4. The gestation period is around 35 days. As they are born blind and naked, so well-hidden shelters are sought by females, who lie on their sides to suckle.

Size: The South African hedgehog reaches a maximum size of about 20cm overall, with a mass of up to 400g. Females are slightly smaller and lighter.

MOLES

GRANT’S GOLDEN MOLE


Introduction: The Grant's golden mole (Eremitalpa granti) was named after Capt. C.H.B. Grant of the Zoological Department of the Natural History Museum in London. They occur in sand dunes mostly devoid of vegetation with a preference for those that are scattered with clumps of dune-grass. These moles are strictly nocturnal and barn owls are their main enemy. The nightly activities include foraging of distances of up to 6,000m, but as little as 300m in a riverbed where there is more food available.

Distribution: Confined to the Namib Desert from roughly Walvis Bay south to the Orange River.

Diet: Rather surprisingly Grant's golden mole eats a wide range of food and the web-footed gecko is the largest prey taken. Crickets and the larvae of beetles are frequently eaten. Termites and ants, moths, spiders, legless lizards and bugs are also on the menu.

Coloring: The upper parts of the body are a pale grayish-yellow with a silvery sheen, with paler under parts.
Breeding: A single juvenile is born, probably in underground chambers.

Size: Males and females have a head and body length of ± 8.5cm.

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