Merida small-eared shrew
|Merida small-eared shrew|
|Range of the Merida small-eared shrew|
C. meridensis is one of the largest small-eared shrews, with a head-body length of 7 to 10 cm (2.8 to 3.9 in) and a tail 2.5 to 4.0 cm (0.98 to 1.57 in) long. Males and females are of similar size, with adults weighing between 9 and 18 grams (0.32 and 0.63 oz). The fur is long, and chocolate brown over most of the body, fading to olive brown on the underside. Both the eyes and the ears are relatively small and are indistinct on external examination. The forepaws are large compared with other shrews, and have long claws. However, the species may be most easily distinguished from other small-eared shrews living in the same area by its upper canine teeth, which are unusually small, and are missing on one or both sides of the mouth in about 25% of individuals. Females have four teats, located on the inguinal region, while males have small, indistinct, scent glands on the flanks.
Distribution and habitat
Merida small-eared shrews are found only in mountainous regions of the Venezuelan states of Trujillo, Mérida, and Táchira. They inhabit cloud forests and sub-alpine páramo habitats between 1,640 and 3,950 metres (5,380 and 12,960 ft) elevation. It may also be found in areas of disturbed forest or secondary scrubland bordering its natural habitat, but is more commonly found where vegetation is dense and leaf-litter is thick.
There are no recognised subspecies.
Behaviour and biology
The Merida small-eared shrews feed primarily on invertebrates, such as earthworms, insects, spiders, centipedes and snails. They are relatively indiscriminate in the invertebrates they prey on, but about 70% of their diet consists of creatures found below the soil, rather than on the surface. They have also been reported to scavenge on dead vertebrates, and occasionally to feed on eggs or newborn rodents.
Although restricted to a relatively small geographic area, Merida small-eared shrews are common within their habitat, with population densities of up to 4.5 per hectare (1.8/acre) having been reported. Predators include barn owls, hawks, opossums, long-tailed weasels, and mountain coatis.
Reproduction apparently continues throughout the year, although it may be more common between March and April, and again between July and October. Litters range from two to four pups, with three being typical.
- Woodman, N. & Matson, J. (2008). "Cryptotis meridensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 20 Feb 2013.
- Hutterer, R. (2005). "Cryptotis meridensis". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 220–311. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Woodman, N. & Díaz de Pascual, A. (2004). "Cryptotis meridensis". Mammalian Species: Number 761: pp. 1–5. doi:10.1644/761.