Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew

Rock Elephant Shrew.


Name

Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew or Eastern Rock Sengi [Elephantulus myurus]

Appearance

The total body of the Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew measures 260 mm and the tail is longer than the head and body length and it weighs about 60 grams. The tail is less hairy than that of the Smith's Rock Elephant Shrew. Eyes are distinctly ringed with a white band.

Diet

The Rock Elephant Shrew feeds on small insects like ants and termites. During the day this species is dependent on shade and shelter, from which it manoeuvres to secure prey.

Breeding

They have a long gestation period for such a small mammal, which lasts eight weeks. At birth the precocial young are fully haired and the eyes are open. Young can walk soon after birth. Females give birth to mostly two sets of twins during the wet summer months (September to March). Young are sexually mature at five to six weeks of age, and females can produce several litters during their lifespan.

Behaviour

The Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew is predominantly a diurnal species, occasionally crepuscular or even nocturnal during bright moonlit nights. It is solitary in habits, but occasionally seen in pairs, presumably during mating and is extremely agile, fast and sure-footed in the uneven terrain of their habitats. When alarmed they communicate by loud foot-drumming and emitting a series of high-pitched squeaks which tail off to a sound that is barely audible. During vocalization with the mouth wide open, the head is held high and the elongated snout is curved back over the muzzle. Secretions from scent glands also form part of their communication system. Such scent glands are situated in the corners of the mouth, behind the ears and at the base of the tail.

Where they are found

The Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew is widely distributed in South Africa, occurring in the North West Province, Northern Province, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Free State, northern Eastern Cape Province and in the mountain regions of western KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho. This Elephant Shrew is quite common in most areas and not threatened, although populations are often isolated due to habitat restrictions. It inhabits areas with rock debris and boulders which offer abundant crevices for refuge and protection from raptors and other predators. Populations of lower densities can also occur on unbroken hill slopes, or isolated rocky outcrops on valley floors and plains.



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