Asian House Shrew

Asian House Shrew

House shrew, Grey musk shrew, Asian musk shrew, Indian musk shrew, Chuchunder (in India)

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Suncus murinus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
1-2 yrs
WEIGHT
50-100 g
LENGTH
15 cm

The Asian house shrew is a mole-like mammal native to South and Southeast Asia. It has a uniform, short, dense fur of mid-grey to brownish-grey color. The tail is thick at the base and a bit narrower at the tip and is covered with a few long, bristle-like hairs that are thinly scattered. They have short legs with five clawed toes. They have small external ears and an elongated snout. They also emit a strong odor of musk, derived from musk glands that are sometimes visible on each side of the body. The odor is especially noticeable during the breeding season.

Distribution

Asian house shrews are widely distributed in South and Southeast Asia. They are found in all habitats, including forests, grasslands, savannas, shrubland, wetlands, cultivated areas, and human habitations. They normally live near human settlements, specifically near the house.

Asian House Shrew habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Asian house shrews are mainly terrestrial and active year-round. They generally lead a solitary life and come together only to mate and raise young. They are active during the night, spending the day in a burrow or hiding place in human habitations. Asian house shrews have a habit of moving quickly along the edges of the walls when they enter human habitations. As they run they make a chattering sound which resembles the sound of jingling money; this has earned them the name ”money shrew” in China. When alarmed, house shrews make an ear-piercing, high-pitched shriek, resembling the sound of nails scraping a chalkboard or a metal fork scraping glass, which repels house cats. Predators also leave house shrews alone because of their musky smell and even when they catch one by mistake they will rarely eat it. Another remarkable habit of Asian house shrews is that they form a ”caravan” with their young, that is, the young line up behind the mother and follow it while she walks. The first young will hold on to the mother's fur with its teeth, and the subsequent young will do the same with the sibling in front of it.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Asian house shrews are mainly insectivores and consume a wide variety of insects. However, they also eat nuts, fruits, plants, and even human food.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
year-round
PREGNANCY DURATION
1 month
BABY CARRYING
1-8 young
INDEPENDENT AGE
15-20 days
FEMALE NAME
sow
MALE NAME
boar
BABY NAME
shrewlet

Asian house shrews breed throughout the year, with each female averaging two litters per year. After the gestation period of one month, the female gives birth to 1-8 young per litter (usually 3 young) in a nest made by both parents. The young stay in the nest until they are nearly adults. Weaning usually occurs between 15 and 20 days after birth and they young start breeding when they are around one year old.

Population

Population threats

There are no major threats to Asian house shrews at present.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Asian house shrew is widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Due to their diet habits, Asian house shrews play an important role in controlling insect populations, especially harmful insects such as cockroaches and they also help disperse seeds throughout their ecosystem. These shrews are also food for local predators, especially Brown tree snakes.

References

1. Asian House Shrew on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_house_shrew
2. Asian House Shrew on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/41440/22287830

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