Country Corner

The common shrew is a frequent visitor to cairncam
The common shrew is a frequent visitor to cairncam

Have I mentioned cairncam yet ?

This is simply one of my camera traps, fitted with a close up lens, and sited in a wee stone igloo affair.

The idea is to obtain close studies of small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews.

If you don’t know the difference between those three, fear not, I will be featuring each in turn over coming weeks.

This week it is the turn of the shrews. Whereas the other two are rodents, with characteristic buck teeth, the shrews are insectivores with needle sharp dentition similar to those of our other insect eating mammals, namely hedgehogs, moles and bats.

Of course, the main identifying feature of shrews is the long snout use for winkling insects from their hiding places.

Here is the common shrew, a species which frequently visits cairncam. There is a smaller species, the tiny pygmy shrew, a mammal the size of a queen bumblebee.

By fresh or salt water there is also the water shrew.

All are hyperactive wee creatures which seem to hunt non stop.

Much of their constant need for food is to fuel this furious pace of life.

Cairncam has a floor of numerous stone chips.

It is amazing to watch shrews practically stand on their heads as they force their snouts down among the stones in search of insects.

Though you would imagine such a thin proboscis to be delicate, the shrews use it like a pig’s snout to shovel stones and debris aside as they forage.

In fact, it is said that shrews would be more ferocious hunters than lions if they were scaled up to the same size.

More from cairncam soon!