Johnny Magory - Pygmy Shrew

Pygmy Shrew – Dallóg fhraoigh

The pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus) is Ireland’s smallest mammal and until very recently the only shrew species found in Ireland. It can be distinguished easily in most of Ireland by its extremely small size and weighing at most about 6g. Adult pygmy shrews are bicoloured with a brownish, thick fur which gets lighter on its flanks and underbelly.

The pygmy shrew has a thick, hairy tail relative to its size. It is found in a wide variety of habitats in Ireland, particularly those rich in ground cover like hedgerows, grasslands, woodlands and peatlands. Pygmy shrews do not burrow themselves but will utilise the burrows of other animals. The diet of the species includes beetles, spiders, bugs and woodlice and it has to consume up 1.25 times its body weight each day in order to survive.

This species is protected under the Wildlife Act (1976) and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 but has been listed as of ‘least concern’ in the recent Red List for terrestrial mammals in Ireland. Identifying feature: Extremely small size, long hairy tail, red-tipped teeth. Number of young:2-3 litters per breeding season. Litter sizes of 1-9 (but mostly 4-6) born between April and October. Diet: Beetles, spiders, bugs, woodlice and insect larvae.