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Africa’s Little 5 – Part 1, the adorable Elephant shrew

By April 9, 2015No Comments

The Little 5 of Africa

We all know of Africa’s famous BIG 5, but did you know Africa has the little 5? The first of a 5 part series of the lesser known group of the Little 5…

A species of Elephant shrew – Giant Elephant shrew.

The Elephant shrew

Elephant shrews are fast cute looking creatures that boast long snouts which resemble that of an Elephants’ trunk, and have rather long legs for their size. Also known as Jumping shrews because of their skill to hop much like rabbits do. There are 17 species in total, which range in size from 10cm to almost 30cm. The average lifespan of an Elephant shrew is between 2 and 4 years.


They call various different habitats home, such as from deserts to grasslands to thick forests, across the southern part of Africa. There is one species known to live in the far northwest of the continent among the mountains. Elephant shrews are not common in anyone place across Africa and are seldom seen by anyone, so count yourself lucky if you spot one!

Elephant shrew hop away fast!


They are very active daytime adventurers, hunting, eating and taking dust baths during the day. These animals are not social and prefer a more solidarity lifestyle. Many however do live in monogamous pairs only to reproduce babies. The couple share and defend a home territory but do not spend much time together. They keep track of where the other is through scent markings.

Elephant shrews are well camouflaged and very good at dashing away making them very hard to find. Some species make a collection of cleared paths which they spend their day patrolling and when disturbed, dash through their very own obstacle-free routes to escape.


Known to be a messy eating insectivores. Elephant shrews mainly eat creepy crawlies such as insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes and earthworms. They use their nose to smell out prey and then use their tongues to flick the food in to their mouth similar as to how an anteater eats. 


The female elephant shrew gives birth to litters of one to three, a few times a year after carrying them in their womb from 45 to 60 days. Their menstrual cycle is similar to that of mammals. Young Elephants shrews are born quite well developed and venture from the nest a few days after birth.

An adorable baby Elephant shrew.