Smallest Mammal in the World

The Etruscan Shrew is the smallest mammal in the world weighing less than 2 grams, averaging 1.8; that’s the weight of two U.S. 1 dollar bills. It lives from Europe and North Africa to Malaysia, between 10° and 30°N latitude. The little guys prefer warm, damp places such as abandoned olive groves, vineyards, and other cultivated areas overrun by shrubs. Because of their high surface-area to volume ratio the shrews have to eat a huge amount, averaging 1.5 – 2 times its body weight in food per day. It eats small vertebrates and invertebrates, mostly insects. It can hunt prey up to their own body size. Their heart beats at 1,500 beats per minute, that’s 25 beats per second. During winter, when food is scarce, the shrew can reduce its body temperature to 12 °C and temporarily hibernate to reduce energy consumption.

They have an estimated life span of 2 years, but there is a large amount of variation to this. This is partially due to predations, most commonly by owls. They, like owls are mostly nocturnal, being most active at dawn. Other threats include harsh winters. Their biggest threat is from humans. Their nesting grounds are being turned into farm land. Though this is going on, the IUCN puts them at a status of Least Concern or Low Risk.

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