Shrews (family Soricidae) are small mole-like mammals classified in the order Eulipotyphla. True shrews are not to be confused with treeshrews, otter shrews, elephant shrews, West Indies shrews, or marsupial shrews, which belong to different families or orders.
Although its external appearance is generally that of a long-nosed mouse, a shrew is not a rodent, as mice are. It is, in fact, a much closer relative of hedgehogs and moles; shrews are related to rodents only in that both belong to the Boreoeutheria magnorder. Shrews have sharp, spike-like teeth, whereas rodents have gnawing front incisor teeth.
Shrews are distributed almost worldwide; among the major tropical and temperate land masses, only New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand have no native shrews; in South America shrews appeared only relatively recently, as a result of the Great American Interchange, and are present only in the northern Andes. The shrew family has 385 known species, making it the fourth-most species-diverse mammal family. The only mammal families with more species are the muroid rodent families (Muridae and Cricetidae) and the bat family Vespertilionidae. The shrew family also probably has the largest population of any mammal family: there are an estimated 100 billion shrews in the world, with an average of a few shrews per hectare of forest.