Simon Walker's picture

Common Shrew

Observed: 15th July 2013 By: Simon WalkerSimon Walker’s reputation in MammalsSimon Walker’s reputation in MammalsSimon Walker’s reputation in Mammals
Shrew, Common, Amwell, 2013-07-15 001
Shrew, Common, Amwell, 2013-07-15 003
Shrew, tail, Common, Amwell, 2013-07-15 002

No sign of damage, so the cause of death is uncertain.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


mikeh22's picture

Either common or pygmy

Either common or pygmy depending on size.

Simon Walker's picture

Not a Pygmy

It was too big.

Gill Sinclair's picture


Sorry - just seen this comment. Any measurements? The two species' size ranges do overlap.

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

Simon Walker's picture

Good Morning, Gill

I'd estimate it at about 7cm. I'm going to have to carry a rule for these things!



Simon Walker's picture

Hello Again Gill

I've just added a close up of the tail. It looks pretty bald to me. What do you think? Bald, or just folically challenged?


Gill Sinclair's picture


Hi Simon - thanks for posting the crop of the photo - I did zoom in on it before but unfortunately the camera has focussed on the grass not the tail (often the case with smaller mammals like this) - I'm veering towards baldness though (not personally!). 7cm is in theory just outside pygmy shrew range but only by 5mm and, as with any species, you can always get unusually large or small individuals. Think I'll still have to wait for a shrew expert!!

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

Simon Walker's picture


I thought you WERE a shrew expert!



the naturalist man's picture


This is yet another one of these shrews recently where the tail is around 75% of the body length, the length at which you should be able to say pygmy shrew for certain.

However, the sides of this animal are dry and there is definite hints of three distinct tones of brown, belly flanks and back; yet the mid-tone on the side does not appear to go very far up the side, trick of the camera I think.

Also, your third photo shows the tail to be sparsely haired, despite having a tuft at the end.

Therefore, all in all, I'm happy to go with common shrew, with an exceptionally long tail, or trick of the camera angle!

When we are badged as expert on iSpot it does not mean we have all the answers, or are expert with all species in the group; it means we are expert with at least one sub-set of species in that group and at least knowledgeable with most of the others. Personally, I often have to consult other experts when it comes to bats in the hand.

As for shrews, they are a difficult group to separate, even in the hand. Photos can be impossible, sources of accidental error creep in all too often, for example, as with your photos because the tail is coming towards the camera it can be elongated or truncated, depending on the lens, by the depth of field. Whilst the body, being at right angles to the camera, is all at one depth of field.

Therefore, it is difficult to judge the tail to body ratio; it's not your fault and there is very little you can do to avoid it, especially with instant digital cameras that set the focus. Ideally you want to use a 50mm lens and have the tail and body in the same plane, at right angles to the camera.

Graham Banwell

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