Golden-rumped elephant shrew

Despite their small size, they’re known for agility and speed, enabling them to evade predators and navigate their environment with ease

Joseph Smit

Despite their small size, they’re known for agility and speed, enabling them to evade predators and navigate their environment with ease

Population 14,000
30% decrease in population between 1993 and 1996

Dwelling in the lush forests and expansive savannas of East Africa, this small mammal is a marvel of evolution, displaying characteristics that distinguish it significantly from the common shrews its name might suggest. Belonging to the order of elephant shrews, or sengis, it showcases a remarkable blend of agility and sensory acumen perfected for survival in its natural habitat.

One of the most striking features of the Golden-rumped elephant shrew is its elongated, flexible snout. This specialized tool is adept at probing the forest floor and dense leaf litter, unearthing insects and other small invertebrates that form the crux of its diet. This ability to forage with such precision underscores the shrew’s important role in the ecosystem as a pest controller, regulating the populations of insects and contributing to the balance of its ecological community.

The physical attributes of the Golden-rumped elephant shrew are finely tuned to its active lifestyle. With a compact body poised on long hind legs, it is capable of astonishing bursts of speed and agility that belie its small size. These adaptations allow it to dart through the underbrush with ease, evading predators and navigating the complexities of its environment with remarkable efficiency. The short tail, while less prominent than its other features, aids in balance and agility, further enhancing its locomotive capabilities.

The vivid golden-orange patch that adorns its rump is not only the origin of its name but also a key aspect of its social and biological identity. This splash of color serves as a visual cue among individuals, facilitating recognition, communication, and perhaps even mating rituals within the species. Furthermore, the shrew’s large, expressive eyes and perceptive ears amplify its sensory perception, enabling it to remain acutely aware of its surroundings, from the rustle of a potential predator to the vibrations of prey moving through the litter.


Population est.
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No