Mammals in the Forest - common shrew - The Heart of England Forest
The common shrew has a distinctive long pointed nose and lives in hedgerows, woodland and grassland in the Forest. They are tricky to spot, but listen carefully and you might be able to hear them as they let out high pitched squeaks when fighting, particularly during the summer.

Photo credit: Peter Preece


  • Scientific Name: Sorex araneus
  • Description: Have a distinctive long pointed nose. Fur is dark brown on the back, paler brown around the sides and whitish underneath
  • Size: Up to 8 cm in length, and up to 14 grams in weight
  • Preferred habitats: Hedgerows, woodland and grassland
  • Diet: Insects, earthworms and spiders
  • Lifespan: 1 year


Breeding takes place between May and September. Females can have up to four litters, each producing five to seven young.

Where do they live in the Forest?

Shrews live on the forest floor, amongst the hedgerows and in the grassland areas.

Natural predators

Owls, kestrels, weasels, foxes and stoats. Although they can often be found abandoned by the predator as they produce a foul tasting liquid from glands on their skin.

Spotting tips

Can be found in areas with plenty of ground cover, though you will need to be eagle eyed to see one. They can sometimes be heard fighting, listen out for high pitched squeaks, particularly during the summer.

Not to be confused with

Small mice. The pointed nose of the shrew is a dead giveaway.

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

How you can help

You can attract shrews into your garden by turning it into a wildlife haven by leaving a rough area of grass and encouraging plenty insects and spiders. Another way you could help is to become a Friend of the Forest and support our work creating and maintaining habitats for wildlife.

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