Is it a mouse, a mole, an aeroplane?
It’s a shrew! Not many experience encounters with shrews everyday. Is it a mole? Is it a mouse? Well, it’s a mix of the two and it eats insects and snails. It has a very fast metabolism, which means it is always hungry and on the hunt. The shrew has poor eyesight but an excellent sense of smell, it can find prey under layers of leaves. The shrew is a gardener’s friend, it lives in the hedgerow. When it has babies, they all move in procession, each holding the tail of the one in front in their mouth. CUTENESS OVERLOAD!
In the wildlife of Cyprus, a shrew is a small, insectivorous mammal. The common shrew has tiny eyes and a large nose giving it keen sense of smell. Shrews hectively snuffle through the undergrowth for their prey, which includes earthworms, spiders and insect chrysalises. They can be found in most habitats, but prefer woodland and grassland.
Did you know this? Here are 5 facts about shrews
- They have a higher metabolic rate than any other animal. The heart of the masked shrew, Sorex cinereus, beats 800 times a minute, considerably faster than that of the hummingbird.
- Shrews must eat 80-90 % of their own body weight in food daily. Most will starve to death if deprived of food for half a day. They eat anything available, but prefer small animals; they are economically important as destroyers of insects and slugs that harm crops.
- Shrews are easily startled and will jump, faint, or drop dead at a sudden noise.
- The Etruscan Shrew (Suncus etruscus) which at about 3.5 cm and 2 g is the smallest living terrestrial mammal.
- The shrews at Cyherbia have never bit us. They are actually very friendly and they curiously walk on our hands. We always return them back to the gardens so they can get back to their busy lives.
What types of animals exist in the wildlife of Cyprus?
Cyprus is home to hedgehogs, porcupines, eagles, snakes, spiders, and many other animals, including the national animal, the Mouflon. There once was a unique species of pygmy hippo, but it went extinct long ago. In this picture, you see Legolas, an albino hedgehog we adopted. Though Legolas was our pet, every night at Cyherbia hundreds of hedgehogs roam the grounds in the forest. These are brown, cypriot hedgehogs and they are quiet fiesty creatures. They are very scared of humans and tend to bite if they feel threatened by you.
Moreover, Cyherbia Botanical Park in collaboration with Bird Life Cyprus organization, have set up nests for owls and other wild birds to be able to nest in our woodland! Make sure to look up at the trees as you walk in the woodland to spot them.
Which birds from the wildlife of Cyprus can you see at Cyherbia?
During spring and autumn, the european bee-eater migrates to Cyprus. The species feeds on large insects, such as bees, bumblebees, hornets, wasps, ants, dragonflies, locusts, beetles etc. Bee-eaters chase these insects mainly by attacking them from elevated viewing standing points.
Many visitors come to Cyherbia and ask us if we have any dangerous wildlife of Cyprus in our park. We don’t have any dangerous animals here. During the day, you may see many flying insects such as butterflies, bees and flies. We have many lizards too, but they are 100% harmless, they are scared to go near you.
How many lizards can you see in our park?
Fear not of our small dragons! They are more scared of you than you are of them and they never attack. They bear a very important role in the wildlife of cyprus, and especially in our park. They eat harmful insects – consider them as our gardeners! If you observe them, they are very funny. They are very playful – they chase each other and run super fast!