The Elephant Shrew

Elephant shrews also called jumping shrews or sengis, are small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea. Their traditional common English name “elephant shrew” comes from a fancied resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant, and their superficial similarity with shrews (family Soricidae) in the order Eulipotyphla. In 1997 the biologist Jonathan Kingdon proposed that they instead are called “sengis” (singular sengi), a term derived from the Bantu languages of Africa, and in 1998 they were classified into the new clade Afrotheria. They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. They are small, quadrupedal, insectivorous mammals resembling rodents or opossums, with scaly tails, elongated snouts, and rather long legs for their size, which are used to move in a hopping fashion like rabbits. They vary in size from about 10 cm to almost 30 cm, from just under 50 g to over 500 g. Although the size of the trunk varies among species, all can twist it about in search of food. Their lifespans are about two and a half to four years in the wild. They have large canine teeth, and also high-crowned cheek teeth similar to those of ungulates. The creature is one of the fastest small mammals. Despite their weight of under half a kilogram, they have been recorded to reach speeds of 28.8 km/h. Credit: Wikipedia.