Belongs to: insectivores

Compare with: water shrew
pygmy shrew

Common shrew Sorex araneus

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Our commonest shrew

Habitat: almost all areas with ground cover

Widespread across Britain and northern and central Europe


Brownish-black on the back and greyish-white below, with a long pointed nose; body up to 9 cm and tail half as long

Very active with a high metabolism, living in dense vegetation and therefore difficult to see

Feed on small animals: insects, worms, spiders


Well-made nest of grasses, usually underground

Usually 2, sometimes more, litters per year of 3–10 young

Very short-lived – generally less than two years; 70–80% die in first year

  • photo

© David Corke