25 March 2024

BIOPARC Valencia is home to Spain's only individual of the rare elephant shrew

The misleading name of this little-known non-shrew mammal comes from the elephant's striking, trunk-like snout.

The wonderful biodiversity never ceases to surprise us. Because it is this characteristic of immense variety of life that makes planet Earth unrepeatable, until now, our only known home. Millions of species of fauna and flora, many still undiscovered, are the true world heritage that we must protect and, on the contrary, we are its greatest threat. Every 10 minutes a species becomes extinct and we continue acting as if this were not a problem, avoiding a reality that is imminently hitting us. He BIOPARC concept, With the Foundation and the parks of Fuengirola, Valencia and the Gijón Aquarium, nace to face this indifference and apathy, to wake up society, to reconnect with the beauty of nature and, most importantly, to do it now, because there is no time to waste.

Elephant shrew at BIOPARC Valencia

BIOPARC Valencia is the only park in Spain where you can see the elephant shrew, this peculiar, tiny and extremely fast species included in the IUCN Red List.

All species are important in natural balance and BIOPARC Valencia is now an example of both extremes. Yes recently the second elephant was born, the largest land animal that exists and one of the most popular, is now the only park in Spain where you can see one of the smallest and most unknown, the short-eared elephant shrew (Macroscelides proboscideus), only about 10 cm in length and 40-50g in weight. The objective is to show this biodiversity and, at the same time, act directly in its conservation. In the area that recreates the savannah, a terrarium has been adapted to the well-being of this little-known species from the south of the African continent that allows a very close observation of a male from the Frankfurt Zoo (Germany). The choice of the common name is certainly misleading because evolutionarily they are very distant relatives of shrews and it is really due to the unique snout that resembles a tiny elephant trunk. In this sense, The most recent scientific literature refers to this species as “sengis”.

Short-eared elephant shrew at BIOPARC Valencia

The biology and behavior of the short-eared elephant shrew is also atypical, since it is monogamous and non-migratory, so the couple spends most of their lives in the same area. However, each member is solitary, the female takes care of the litter that she keeps unattended in some protected area, returning once a day to feed it. Births are very small, of only 1 or 2 babies, which are precocious, with hair, eyes open and able to run a few hours after birth. This ability to move at high speed places them among the fastest small mammals, reaching close to 30km/h. The most striking thing about its anatomy is its snout, which is significantly mobile and elongated, which it uses as a probe in the search for invertebrate prey and which it wiggles to track odors in the environment. With an omnivorous diet, it uses its long tongue to immediately introduce captured prey into its mouth.

Video: short-eared elephant shrew.

The habitat of the short-eared elephant shrew They are areas of intense heat, so their activity is twilight. They are found on gravel plains in desert and semi-desert areas, with sparse herbaceous vegetation, shrublands and scattered low shrubs. Included in the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature), currently its population is stable.

Short-eared elephant shrew

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