- Sorex suaveolens Pallas, 1811
- Crocidura gueldenstaedtii (Pallas, 1811)
Lesser Shrew, Lesser White-toothed Shrew
IUCN: LC; Be (III)
Value of species
Subspecies C. s. caneae, endemic to Crete, is on Appendix II of the Bern Convention (as C. ariadne).
Populations from eastern Asia (SE Siberia, E China, Korea, Taiwan) are now considered to be a separate species, C. shantungensis, whilst C. gueldenstaedtii is considered conspecific with C. suaveolens.
The Lesser White-toothed Shrew has a wide global distribution. It occurs in the Palaearctic, extending from the Atlantic coast of Spain and probably Portugal (where its occurrence needs further confirmation) extending eastwards through Europe and Asia to Siberia. The southernmost edge of its distribution reaches Sinai (Egypt), Asia Minor, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.
It is uncommon in the western part of its range, occurring at much lower densities than its congener C. russula (Libois et al. 1999). Further east it is more common. Described as abundant and ubiquitous in at least parts of its global range (Harrison and Bates 1991). In the steppe forest zone in Ukraine it is the most abundant shrew species, both in natural and agricultural habitats (I. Zagorodnyuk pers. comm. 2006).
At higher latitudes and altitudes in Europe it is often associated with human habitation, tending to be found in parks, gardens, and even houses. It is very common in straw ricks. In western and southern Europe and it inhabits a wide range of habitats including vineyards, olive groves, terraced farmland on hillsides, dry Mediterranean shrubland, sand dunes, rocky areas in the mountains, and damp densely-vegetated patches near to water. It tends to avoid dense forests (Vlasák and Niethammer 1990, Libois et al. 1999). Small, soft-bodied insects form a major part of its diet (Vlasák and Niethammer 1990).
In southwest Asia it has been collected from habitats with long dry grasses; thick vegetation along streams, river edges and vegetation channels; around houses and in forested areas (Bates and Harrison 1989, Tez 2000). Its main requirement is enough vegetation and moisture to support its insect prey, and in arid areas it tends to be more common near springs and oases; however, it is more tolerant of dry conditions than many of its congeners (Qumsiyeh 1996).
The gestation period is 28 days and life expectancy one year; a female may have 10-12 litters, each with one to seven young, although usually four (Qumsiyeh 1996).
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