Elephant shrew

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Elephant shrews
Short-eared Elephant Shrew
(Macroscelides proboscideus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Eutheria
Superorder: Afrotheria
Order: Macroscelidea
Butler, 1956
Genera

Rhynchocyon
Petrodromus
Macroscelides
Elephantulus

Elephant shrews, also called sengi, are any of 16 species of rat-sized African mammals named for their long, tapered, and flexible snout (proboscis). All have slim bodies, slender limbs, and very long hind legs and feet. Although they resemble shrews, they are not insectivores but constitute the mammalian order Macroscelidea. Long thought to be related to shrews, they are actually more closely related to elephants than to shrews although this was not known or even widely believed until the 1990s.

Description[change | edit source]

Elephant shrews are terrestrial and are active during the day. Their ears and eyes are large, and, when alarmed, they run on their toes swiftly along paths they construct and maintain, sometimes leaping over obstacles. When foraging, they move along the pathways, using their paws and the constantly moving proboscis to turn over leaf litter and soil in search of prey, which consists of small insects (especially ants and termites), other arthropods, and earthworms. Gestation lasts two months, and litters contain one or two well-developed young.