Short-eared elephant shrew

Macroscelides proboscideus

Common name

Short-eared elephant shrew


This species occupies gravel plains in desert and semi-desert areas, with sparse herbaceous vegetation, scrublands and scattered low shrubs.








56 days

Number of offspring

1-2 young, rarely 3



It is an omnivorous species. Although they feed mainly on insects, which constitute 48-88% of their diet, they also consume plant parts such as roots, tubers and shoots, as well as small amounts of seeds and fruits.


They have a life expectancy of 1 to 2 years in the wild, and can reach 3-4 years in captivity.

Biology and behavior

They are animals with mainly crepuscular habits, taking refuge in patches of vegetation, in shallow burrows dug by themselves or in abandoned burrows built by other small species, generally rodents.

It is a monogamous and non-migratory species, so the pair spends most of their lives in the same camping area. However, each member of the couple spends most of their time independently, so they are considered solitary.

They can reproduce throughout the year, although most births occur in summer. Although females can produce 21 or more eggs per ovary in each cycle, because the areas in which embryos could implant in the uterus are very limited, litter size is restricted to 1 or 2 offspring. , which will be very precocious at birth: with hair, eyes open and being able to run a few hours after birth. There is no direct parental investment, so care of the litter falls to the female. She does not build any nest for the young, but simply looks for a protected area. She doesn't keep an eye on them either, as she wanders away from the litter most of the time, returning once a day to feed them.

The most striking feature of their anatomy is their very mobile and elongated snout, which they use as a probe in search of invertebrate prey and which they move in search of smells in the environment. The prey is captured and quickly introduced into the mouth using its long tongue.


The common name “elephant shrew” is due, in part, to the superficial resemblance of its snout to an elephant's trunk, although it is completely different in terms of prehensibility or relative strength. In the same way that it can be somewhat misleading, since they do not maintain a close evolutionary relationship with true shrews (belonging to the Soricidae family), but rather they are evolutionarily very distant relatives. For this reason, in the most recent scientific literature you could also find them under the name “sengis”.

African savanna
Equatorial jungle
Madagascar Island