General, Research, Technology

The smallest animals: who are they and where do they live?

According to data for 2013, the scientific communitymore than 1.6 million animal species are known to exist. We regularly talk about the most interesting of them and we managed to get acquainted with the largest, fastest and most poisonous creatures. But do you know which animal is considered the smallest mammal? We are not talking about insects and other tiny creatures, but about vertebrates that feed children with milk. Scientists are not yet aware of all types of animals in the world, and from time to time they report the discovery of new creatures. At the moment, shrews are considered the smallest mammals. To be more precise, we are talking about two varieties: the extinct Batodonoides and the still thriving Etruscan shrews (Suncus etruscus). As part of this article, I propose to find out exactly where these tiny creatures live and what kind of life they lead.

Shrews are the smallest mammals on our planet

Content

  • 1 Who are shrews?
  • 2 The smallest mammals
  • Extinct animals
  • 4 The smallest bat

Who are shrews?

First you need to figure out who they are in general -shrews? Outwardly, these creatures look like small mice and do not grow more than a few centimeters. That is, they themselves are very tiny. These animals can be found almost everywhere, except for the polar regions of the planet, Australia, New Zealand and South America. They lead a solitary lifestyle and spend a lot of time underground. They either dig holes on their own, or seize other animals like moles. Shrews are considered omnivores, but insects are preferred. Although, there are times when they attack lizards, frogs and other small creatures.

Shrews are like small, furry elephants

The smallest mammals

The smallest dimensions are Etruscan shrewswho live in Portugal, Spain, France,China and many other regions of our planet. Occasionally they can be found even in Kazakhstan - very few people saw them live there, but people sometimes found their remains. They are not in Russia, but there are reports that tiny shrews sometimes walk around the European part of the country. The length of their body, excluding the 3.5-centimeter tails, is only 4.5 centimeters. And body weight is usually 1.7 grams. In general, the size of these creatures can be compared to matchboxes.

Yes, these creatures are very difficult to notice.

Like other species of shrews, representativesEtruscan species dig holes or occupy existing ones. Generally speaking, they prefer humid places and often hide in mountain crevices, collapsed buildings and other secluded places. During the day they are not very active and feed near their shelters. But at night, shrews begin to eat much more actively, because every day they need to consume an amount of food that exceeds their total weight by 2 or more times. As mentioned above, most of all they love insects, larvae and worms. By eating pests, shrews are of great benefit to agriculture. Their lifespan reaches 3 years.

See also: What professions can animals learn?

Extinct animals

But in the world there was another species of shrews, which was even smaller than the Etruscan ones. So called batodonoids lived in what is now the United States for about 53million years ago. Their fossils have been found in the states of California and Wyoming. In particular, paleontologists managed to find several teeth and fragments of the jaw of ancient creatures. Based on their size, the researchers suggested that the body length of the batodonoids was even less than 4.5 centimeters. And body weight barely reached the 1.3-gram mark. A replica of an ancient shrew is currently kept at the California Academy of Sciences. It is he who is shown in the main image of the article.

Batodonoid versus human

The smallest bat

It is important to note that shrews are the smallestanimals leading an earthly lifestyle. And if we talk about creatures that can fly, it would be more accurate to call the pig-nosed bats (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) the smallest. They were discovered only in 1973, have noses similar to pigs' pigs and are very rare. Their body length is about 33 millimeters, and their mass reaches 2 grams. In general, these creatures easily fit even in the palm of a small child. But, again, it is very rare to meet them in nature, and it is better not to touch them - bats can spread dangerous diseases.

Pig-nosed bat on human palm

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Like many other rare animals, pig-nosedbats are at risk of extinction completely and are under protection. Even in 1982, while studying three caves, scientists were able to find only 160 individuals. At the moment, the scientific community knows about the existence of 500 pig-nosed creatures. Scientists are puzzled that even when protected, these creatures can still disappear due to global warming. And no one has yet figured out how to protect them from this.