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Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews:
Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan
Published 1995

Erinaceinae | Atelerix | Erinaceus | Hemiechinus | Paraechinus | Mesechinus | Hylomyinae | Echinosorex | Hylomys | Podogymnura

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2.3.1 Family Erinaceidae: The Hedgehogs, Moonrats and Gymnures

This family of seven genera and 19 species (Table 2. 1) is widely dispersed throughout Africa, Europe and Asia, ranging as far north as the limits of the northern deciduous forests, south to the Sahara desert and east towards, and including, Tioman Island (Peninsular Malaysia), Sumatra and Java (Indonesia), Borneo and Mindanao Island in the Philippines archipelago (Frost et al., 1991).

The family Erinaceidae consists of two sub-families: the Erinaceinae - four genera of hedgehogs - and the Hylomyinae (formerly Echinosoricinae) - three genera of gymnures. The Erinaceinae are a widely distributed group throughout Eurasia and are readily distinguished by the barbless spines (adults have an average of 5000) on their back and sides. The remainder of the body - face, limbs and underparts-is covered in coarse hair. In contrast, members of the Hylominae are entirely Asian in distribution and are characterised by their lack of spines.

Members of this family vary considerably in size and appearance. Body length (head and body only), for example, ranges from 105-445mm, while tail length may vary from 10-325mm. The south-east Asian moonrat or gymnure Echinosorex, is the largest species, while Hylomys, the lesser gymnure, another Asian species, is the smallest. The snout of gymnures and hedgehogs is elongate and blunt and the eyes and ears are well developed. The tail is usually hairy. With the exception of the spines and their associated musculature, the body plan of hedgehogs and gymnures is very primitive.

The habitats of hedgehogs and gymnures include forested and bushy areas, steppes and deserts. Almost all species are nocturnal, sheltering during daylight under logs, in rock crevices or in shallow burrows. Species from the temperate region always construct a nest of dried grasses and leaves. This is particularly important for the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) which hibernates during the northern winter months.

Like other insectivores, hedgehogs and moonrats eat a variety of prey. European hedgehogs feed primarily on invertebrates including earthworms, slugs, beetles and caterpillars, while the Daurian hedgehog (Mesechinus dauuricus) of the Gobi Desert has been reported to feed mainly on small rodents. Moonrats frequently search for prey in water, feeding on a range of crustaceans, molluscs and even fish. Most species will also feed on fruit and berries.

Despite their large size (relative to other insectivores), hedgehogs and gymnures have not been well studied. The sole exception to this is perhaps the European hedgehog (E. europaeus) which has been the subject of many detailed laboratory and field studies. However, little is still known about the distribution, ecology or conservation status of the majority of Asian species.

Table 2. 1. Classification of the Erinaceidae *
Genus Species
Sub-family Erinaceinae



Hemiechinus (Hemiechinus)

Hemiechinus (Paraechinus)


Sub-family Hylomyinae




* The latest revision (Frost et al., 1991) recognizesMesechinus as a distinct
genus and Paraechinus and Hemiechinus as subgenera of the latter.
** The sole representative of this African genus (four species) in Eurasia.

A. algirus **

E. amurensis
E. concolor
E. europaeus

(H.) auritus
(H.) collaris

H. (P.) aethiopicus
H. (P.) hypomelas
H. (P.) micropus
H. (P.) nudiventris

M. dauuricus
M. hughi

E. gymnura

H. hainanensis
H. parvus
H. sinensis
H. suillus

P. aureospinula

Sub-family Erinaceinae

GENUS ATELERIX - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Four species are recognised in this genus (Meester et al., 1986) of which just one A. algirus is represented in Eurasia. The remaining species are exclusively African.

Algerian hedgehog (Atelerix algirus)

Taxonomy: Atelerix algirus Lereboullet 1842.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: The Algerian hedgehog is somewhat smaller that the European species, measuring some 200-250mm. In appearance, the Algerian hedgehog is noticeably paler in colour than most examples of the European hedgehog, although Erinaceus europaeus may be quite pale in colour in southern Spain. The most reliable means of distinguishing A. algirus is the spinefree 'parting' on the crown of the head, which is wider than in other species.

Distribution: Although this species is widespread in north-western Africa (ranging from Western Sahara and Morocco to Libya), its Eurasian distribution is confined to south-west Europe, particularly on Malta (Malec and Storch, 1972), the Balearic Islands and the Mediterranean coastline of Spain and parts of south-eastern France, where it was probably introduced. It has also been introduced on Fuerteventura and Tenerife, the Canary Islands (Niethammer, 1972). An isolated population exists in mid-western France where it has almost certainly been introduced.

Habitat: The preferred habitat of this species has not been well defined.

Ecology and behaviour: Almost nothing is known about this species. Unlike E. europaeus it does not appear to hibernate during the winter months.

GENUS ERINACEUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The genus Erinaceus contains three species. The range of the genus is very wide, extending from the British Isles across Europe and Russia to Manchuria, Korea and northern and eastern China. In Asia Minor its range extends east to Transcaucasia and Iran. E. europaeus has also been introduced to New Zealand.

Manchurian (Amur) hedgehog (Erinaceus amurensis)

Taxonomy: Erinaceus europaeus var. amurensis Schrenk 1859.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: This species is easily distinguished by its thick body, the back of which is covered with long sharp spines up to 24mm long, and pale yellow in appearance. Other parts of the body are covered with fur composed of coarse hair. Body length is approximately 277mm.

Distribution: This species occurs in lowland China from about 29'N (i.e. a little south of the Yangtze) north to the Amur Basin and Korea. It may also occur in Sichuan, China (Corbet, 1992).

Habitat: Forest and grassland.

Ecology and behaviour: The ecology of this species is poorly known.

Eastern European hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor)

Taxonomy: Erinaceus concolor Martin 1838.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar in size and general appearance to E. europaeus. It may be distinguished by the presence of a distinctive white breast which contrasts with the darkcoloured belly.

Distribution: This species is widely distributed throughout eastern Europe, overlapping with E. europaeus in a zone from western Poland to the Adriatic. E. concolor is the only species of hedgehog on Crete and some other Greek islands. Its range also extends to Israel and Iran.

Habitat: Similar to E. europaeus.

Ecology and behaviour: This species has not been studied in any detail and little is known of its ecology. It is probably similar to E. europaeus in behaviour.

Western European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

Taxonomy: Erinaceus europaeus Linnaeus 1758.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: The European hedgehog measures 225-275mm in length and weighs about 400-1 1 00g. it may be distinguished from the eastern hedgehog (E. concolor) by the absence of a white breast patch in the western form. In southern Spain, E. europaeus is very pale in colour, with many wholly white spines and may be distinguished from the very similar Algerian hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) by the very narrow spine-free parting on the crown.

Distribution: This species is widely distributed throughout most of western Europe, including the British Isles. The zone of overlap with the Eastern hedgehog runs from the Baltic to the Adriatic and is about 200km wide in former Czechoslovakia. The range of E. europaeus expanded northward in Scandinavia during the 20th century (Kristiansson, 1981). It is also present in northern Russia and western Siberia. This species has been deliberately introduced to New Zealand.

Habitat: E. europaeus is found in woodland wherever there is ground vegetation, but is also abundant in grassland, especially when adjacent to woodland, hedgerow or scrub. In the Alps it may be found up to an altitude of 2000m in the dwarf pine zone, but will not live above the tree line.

Ecology and behaviour: Hedgehogs live on the surface of the ground without burrowing or climbing to any extent. Predominantly nocturnal, they are occasionally active during daylight, particularly during autumn. Undergoes hibernation during the winter months in the northern hemisphere. Details of its ecology may be found in Morris (1983).

GENUS HEMIECHINUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The status of this genus has been controversial and the subject of many reviews. Originally regarded as a subgenus of Erinaceus, it was raised to generic status by Corbet (1978, 1988) who also included Mesechinus within this genus. Paraechinus was considered a distinct genus by Corbet (op. cit.), but a subgenus of Hemiechinus by Pavlinov and Rossolimo (1987) and Frost et al., (1991). The latter also elevated Mesechinus to a full genus.


This subgenus consists of two species which are adapted to living in arid climates and which range from the Sahara desert to central Asia. Following Corbet (1978), the Afghanistan form Hemiechinus auritus megalotis (given specific status by Ellerman and Morrison-Scott, 1951) is included in H. auritus.

Long-eared hedgehog (H. [Hemiechinus] auritus)

Taxonomy: Hemiechinus auritus Gmelin 1770.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: The spines are usually banded with dark brown and white and the underparts are generally whitish. In this genus, the ears are longer and more prominent than in other hedgehogs. Body length is approximately 150-270mm and tail length 10-SOmm. Unlike Erinaceus and Paraechinus, Hemiechinus lacks a median spineless tract on the top of the head.

The population in Afghanistan and Pakistan is characterised by a very large size (head and body length 260-300mm) and uniformly brown ventral pelage (H. a. megalotis) (Corbet, 1992).

Distribution: This species occurs from the eastern Mediterranean (north Libya and Egypt, Cyprus, Asia Minor) through south-west Asia (not Saudi Arabia) to the Gobi desert (Mongolia), Xinjiang (China) and northwest India.

Habitat: H. auritus is found in marginal desert regions as well as dry steppes. In Egypt H. auritus is rare in poorly vegetated areas but is commonly found in gardens in association with people (Hoogstraal, 1962).

Ecology and behaviour: Nocturnal, terrestrial and solitary animals. During daylights. auritus seeks refuge in a burrow - they are active diggers (Roberts, 1977) usually under small bushes. In the Punjab of northern India, H. auritus may hibernate up to 3.5 months in winter and, in the mountains of Pakistan, hibernation lasts from October to March (Walker, 1991). In warmer areas there is no prolonged winter hibernation but during periods of food scarcity there may be summer aestivation (Roberts, 1977).

Collared hedgehog (H. [Hemiechinus] collaris)

Taxonomy: Hemiechinus collaris Gray 1830; blandfordi Anderson 1878 is a synonym.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar to H. auritius.

Distribution: Arid zones of north-west India and Pakistan west to the Indus (both banks), north to Jamnur, south as far as Pune (Maharashtra), but the latter may have been an isolate or introduction (Corbet, 1992).

Habitat: Desert and dry steppes.

Ecology and behaviour: Nothing is known about the ecology of this species.

SUBGENUS PARAECHINUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Four species are recognised within this subgenus, all of which are adapted to living in arid regions. Desert hedgehogs feed most often at night, with the diet consisting mainly of insects, but also small vertebrates, eggs of ground-nesting birds and scorpions. Members of this subgenus probably breed only once a year. The range of Paraechinus spp. is often sympatric with that of Hemiechinus spp.

Desert hedgehog (H. [Paraechinus] aethiopicus)

Taxonomy: Hemiechinus aethiopicus Ehrenberg 1833.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar to P. micropus.

Distribution: This species is widely distributed throughout Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Arabia, Aden and Iraq. It is also thought to occur on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, (Herter, 1972), through introduction (although it may also have been mistaken for A. algirus).

Habitat: Desert and dry steppe.

Ecology and behaviour: Little is known about this species. It appears to be marginally sympatric with Hemiechinus auritus and P. hypomelas.

Brandt's hedgehog (H. [Paraechinus] hypomelas)

Taxonomy: Erinaceus hypomelas Brandt 1936. Two subspecies have been recognised in Pakistan: P.h. hypomelas (western Pakistan including Baluchistan; Afghanistan) and P.h. jerdoni, from the Indus Valley.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar in external appearance to P. micropus. Subspecies may be distinguished on size basis: P. h. hypomela is the larger, with a head and body length of 205-285 mm, compared to 150-205 mm for P. h.jerdoni.

Distribution: This species has a wide distribution, ranging from Iran and Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan, to the Indus River and North Pakistan; isolates have been recorded from Oman and on the islands of Tanb and Kharg in the Persian Gulf.

Habitat: Desert, dry steppe.

Ecology and behaviour: More nomadic in habit than other hedgehogs and probably travel over a greater area during the year. Varied diet ranging from insects to snakes and fruit.

Indian hedgehog (H. [Paraechinus] micropus)

Taxonomy: Hemiechinus micropus Blyth 1846. A subspecies has been described on the basis of the slight differences in the pigmentation of the spines: P.m. kutchicus Biswas and Ghose (1970), who recognised it as belonging to intermedius, which they considered a distinct species.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Body length varies from 140-230mm and the length of the tail ranges from 10-40mm. Coloration is highly variable; there is a tendency towards melanism and also to albinism. The spines may be banded with dark brown or black and white or yellow, but often just one of these colours predominates. Some forms have a brown muzzle with a white forehead and sides. The underparts may be blotched dark brown and white - the variation ranging from entirely brown to entirely white. The ears are relatively short. Skull features distinguish this genus on an anatomical basis. Paraechinus has a wide and prominent naked area on the scalp, whereas this area is very narrow in Erinaceus, moderately wide in Atelerix, and lacking altogether in Hemiechinus (Corbet, 1988).

Distribution: Arid zones of Pakistan, where it is considered "uncommon", (Roberts, 1977) and northwest India (Hutterer, 1993).

Habitat: Desert and similar and zones.

Ecology and behaviour: A sedentary, nocturnal species which may seek shelter by day under a pile of brush wood or a bush; it does not always enter burrows (Roberts, 1977). Individuals adhere to their home range for much of their life. P. micropus does not hibernate but may remain torpid in its burrow if food or water is scarce (Walker, 1991). The breeding season extends throughout the monsoon period.

Madras hedgehog (H. [Paraechinus] nudiventris)

Taxonomy: Hemiechinus nudiventris Horsfield 1851.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Distribution: This species has been recorded from Tamil Nadu and Travancore Provinces, India (Corbet, 1992, and Hutterer, 1993, respectively). Additional surveys should be initiated to determine its exact distribution.

Habitat: Desert and similar and zones.

Ecology and behaviour: The behaviour of this species in the wild is poorly known. Concern has been expressed that it may occupy a restricted distribution.

GENUS MESECHINUS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

Pavlinov and Rossolimo (1987) placed Mesechinus as a subgenus of Erinaceus, but Frost et al., (1991) raised it to full generic rank. It contains two species, both found in semi-arid habitats in Mongolia, southern Manchuria, Transbaikalia and North-central China.

Daurian hedgehog (Mesechinus dauuricus)

Taxonomy: Mesechinus dauuricus Sundevall 1842.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Similar to H. auritius.

Distribution: Occurs in a semi-arid zone in North China, ranging from Inner Mongolia to West Manchuria, northeast Mongolia and the Transbaikalia and upper Amur Basin in Russia.

Habitat: Dry steppe.

Ecology and behaviour: Nothing is known about the ecology of this species.

Hugh's hedgehog (Mesechinus hughi)

Taxonomy: Mesechinus hughi Thomas 1908.

IUCN Category of Threat: Vulnerable (Bl and 2c).

Description: Similar to H. auritius. Characterised by darker spines (due to longer terminal dark tips) and a very pale ventral pelage. This species may also be distinguished by cranial features.

Distribution: Known only from Shaanxi and Shanxi Provinces, Central China (Hutterer, 1993).

Habitat: Dry steppe.

Ecology and behaviour: Nothing is known about the ecology of this species.

Sub-family Hylomyinae

GENUS ECHINOSOREX - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The single species in this genus, E. gymnura is a distinctive animal restricted to the Malay Peninsula, Borneo and Sumatra (Indonesia), including Labuan Island.

Moonrat (Echinosorex gymnura)

Taxonomy: Viverra gymnura Raffles 1822. Two subspecies have been described: E.g. alba from the eastern and southern regions of Borneo and the Kelabit uplands, as well as Sumatra (Indonesia), Peninsular Malaysia and South Thailand (Corbet, 1992; Payne et al., 1985); E.g. candida from the western side of Borneo from P. Labuan south to at least Kuching region (Payne et al., 1985).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: Members of this genus have an exceedingly narrow body, which may be an adaptation for seeking food in narrow crevices. The rough and harsh pelage consists of a short, thick underfur covered by a dense layer of longer, coarse hair. The colour is variable, and is either usually black - the head and shoulders and the distal part of the tail being whitish (Walker, 1975) - or generally white with a sparse scattering of black hairs (Payne et al., 1985). White forms (not albino) have also been recorded (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977). The face is generally marked with black spots or stripes near the eyes. Payne et al., (1985) also note that on Borneo, at least, moonrats from the west (E.g. candida) tend to have a greater proportion of black hairs than those from the east (E.g. alba), with an intermediate coloration noted from Brunei.

Moonrats weigh from 1000-1400 g (occasionally up to 2kg), with a head and body length of 265-445mm and a tail length of approximately 200mm. Females are larger than males (Davis, 1962; Lekagul and McNeely, 1977). The scantily-haired tail reveals that the scales are arranged in rows around the tail, except near the base where they are arranged diagonally.

Distribution: This monotypic species is found in Tenasserim (Myanmar), Peninsular Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo. Moonrats are widely distributed within their geographical range. They occur in several protected areas, including Tabin Wildlife Reserve (122O km2 ) and Danum Valley Conservation Area (43O km2) in Sabah (Payne, pers. comm.).

Habitat: Lowland forests (including logged and secondary), often near streams and mangrove swamps. The habitat of the moonrat ranges into mangrove forest, forest fringe areas and occasionally rubber estates adjacent to secondary forest.

Ecology and behaviour: Nocturnal and terrestrial, remaining in burrows (or rock crevices) during daylight. Earthworms and arthropods are favoured prey in the wild, with fish, crabs and land molluscs serving as supplementary foods (Lim, 1967). Lekagul and McNeely (1977) record that the moonrat often enters water to hunt for frogs, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, and insects. Whitrow, Gould and Rand (1977) suggested that wild specimens eat the fruit of cultivated oil palm.

Little is known about the breeding habits of this species. Lekagul and McNeely (1977) reported that breeding occurs throughout the year with usually two litters per annum, an average litter size of two and a gestation period of 35-40 days. Medway (1 978) recorded pregnancies in May, June, September, and November; an average litter size of 1.9 and a record life span in captivity of 55 months.

Although little information is available on this species in the wild, evidence does suggest that moonrats are solitary animals, highly intolerant of conspecifics. In captivity and in the wild, moonrats engage in widespread scent-marking behaviour (see Gould, 1978). E. gymnura has a strong, characteristic odour that emanates from two small glands near the anus and that has been variously described as resembling rotten onions, stale sweat and even "Irish stew gone bad"!

GENUS HYLOMYS - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The genus Hylomys (gymnures or moonrats) is widespread throughout south-east Asia, although it is highly fragmented with many isolates. This genus has often been restricted to just a single species, H. suillus, although in his extensive revision of the Insectivora, Hutterer (1 993) recognised three species. More recently, Ruedi et al. (1994) have suggested a fourth species, H. parvus, from Sumatra (Indonesia).

Hainan gymnure (Hylomys hainanensis)

Taxonomy: Formerly Neohylomys hainanensis Shaw and Wong 1959. The type specimen was collected at Paisa Hsian, Hainan. Neohylomys was included within Hylomys by van Valen (1967). This arrangement was accepted by Corbet and Hill (1986), Frost et al., (1991) and, with question, by Heaney and Morgan (1982), but not by Corbet (1988; 1992), Honacki, Kinman and Koeppl (1982) or Yates (1984).

IUCN Category of Threat: Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Description: The length of the head and body of seven known specimens range from 120-147mm; the length of the tail from 36-43mm and body weight from 50-69g. The head is blackish-grey, mixed with brown. The back is a rust-grey colour and there is a long, black stripe down the middle of the back. The sides of H. hainanensis are washed with olive-yellow and the under parts are pale grey or yellowish-white. The ears, feet and tail are almost naked, with minute scattered short hairs. The distinguishing features of this species include its generally larger size compared to other Hylomys spp., longer tail and the reduction of one lower premolar.

Distribution: H. hainanensis is restricted to Hainan Island, off southern China.

Habitat: According to Corbet (1992) this species has been recorded in tropical rainforest and subtropical evergreen forest. It was originally described as subterranean but it is more likely that it merely uses burrows as refuges. Remaining patches of evergreen forest on Hainan Island are now under considerable pressure from clearance for timber and the expansion of agriculture.

Ecology and behaviour: The ecology of this species in the wild is not known.

Dwarf gymnure (Hylomys parvus)

Taxonomy: H. parvus Robinson and Kloss 1916. Not regarded as a valid species by Chasen (1940), Corbet (1988), Corbet and Hill (1992), or Hutterer (1993). But see Ruedi et al. (1994).

IUCN Category of Threat: Critically Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Description: Like H. suillus, but may be separated from the latter by its notched space between premaxillary tips, soft texture of the fur, and more delicate skull and dentition (Ruedi et al., 1994).

Distribution: This species has only been reported from the slopes of Mt Kerinci, West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Habitat: Robinson and Kloss (1918) report finding H. suillus and H. parvus together at 2200m on Mt Kerinci. Ruedi et al. (1994) state that the habitat of the dwarf gymnure is now restricted to the moss forest covering the peak of Mt Kerinci.

Ecology and behaviour: The ecology of this species in the wild is not known. Sympatric with H. suillus in the lower part of its range.

Hylomys sinensis

Taxonomy: Formerly Neotetrachus sinensis Trouessart 1909. N. sinensis was synonymised with Hylomys by van Valen (1967). This arrangement was accepted by Corbet and Hill (1986) and Frost et al., (1991), but not by Corbet (1988, 1992), Heaney and Morgan (1982), Honacki, Kinman and Koeppl (1982) or Yates (1984). According to Corbet (1992), five nominal subspecies have been described: N.s. sinensis, N.s. flavescens, N.s. cuttingi, N.s. hypolineatus and N.s. unicolor.

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Near Threatened).

Description: The length of the head and body is 105-148mm; tail length varies from 60-82mm. The coat is soft, dense and quite long. In appearance, the dorsal surface may be olive-brown, cinnamon-brown, or a mixed cream colour and black, with the sides of the head and neck sometimes tinged with red. An indistinct, blackish dorsal stripe may be present. The underparts are reddish, buff-grey or cream-coloured over a dark background.

H. sinensis is distinguished from other members of this genus by its longer tail, shorter snout and fewer teeth. The tail of H. sinensis is also thinly covered with minute hairs. Females have eight mammae.

Distribution: Montane areas of Sichuan and Yunnan (China) and adjacent parts of Myanmar and North Vietnam.

Habitat: It inhabits cool damp forests between 300 and 2700m in altitude.

Ecology and behaviour: These animals are apparently strictly terrestrial and nocturnal. They appear quite common in parts of their range and are found in runways and burrows with moss and fern cover, as well as beneath logs and rocks. Diet appears to be composed mostly of invertebrates. The breeding season appears to extend throughout the year, probably limited to two litters per annum.

Lesser gymnure (Hylomys suillus)

Taxonomy: Hylomys suillus Mfiller 1840. Three distinct subspecies can be recognised (Corbet, 1992): H.s. suillus from Java and Sumatra, Indonesia (no dorsal stripe); H.s. dorsalis from Borneo (slight mid-dorsal stripe) and H. s. tionis from Tioman Island, Malaysia (no dorsal stripe).

IUCN Category of Threat: Lower Risk (subcategory Least Concern).

Description: The length of the head and body is approximately 105-146mm, while tail length ranges from 12-30mm. The pelage is soft and rusty brown in colour on the dorsal surface, grey or yellowish on the ventral side. An indistinct black nape strip or black dorsal stripe may be present (see Taxonomy).

Distribution: The lesser gymnure is found along the Myanmar border of Yunnan, China, in Myanmar, Indochina, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, and on Tioman Island, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. It is known to occur in Kinabalu National Park (750 km2), Sabah.

Habitat: H. suillus is confined to forest areas. Its preferred habitat appears to be humid mountain or lowland forest with thick undergrowth. It has been recorded from an altitude of about 90m on the mainland, 3000m on Sumatra and 1000-3400m on Borneo.

Ecology and behaviour: Although capable of climbing, this species is generally terrestrial, moving in short bounds and bursts of speed when threatened. It appears to use regular paths on the forest floor. Diet is mainly composed of invertebrates such as insects and earthworms. It may also feed on fruit. H. suillus is active at infrequent periods during the day and night. Breeding appears to take place throughout the year, with 2-3 young born after a gestation of 30-35 days. Longevity probably does not exceed two years. As in Echinosorex, a strong odour is characteristic of this species (Lekagul and McNeely, 1977; Walker, 1991). Lesser gymnures probably breed throughout the year, at least in the tropical parts of their range. Shelter is sought in nests of dead leaves made in hollows in the ground or under rocks.

GENUS PODOGYMNURA - Return to Top of Page | Table of contents

The genus Podogymnura contains two species, both of which are restricted to the southern Philippines. Their taxonomy has been reviewed by Heaney and Morgan (1982) and Poduschka and Poduschka (1985).

Dinagat moonrat (Podogymnura aureospinula)

Taxonomy: Podogymnura aureospinula Heaney and Morgan 1982; described from Dinagat Island, the Philippines.

IUCN Category of Threat: Endangered (B l and 2c).

Description: Distinguished by its stiff dorsal pelage, which is generally golden brown in colour, with black speckling. Underparts lack stiff hairs and are mostly brownish-grey.

Distribution: Restricted to Dinagat Island, the Philippines.

Habitat: The few known specimens were collected from logged dipterocarp forest.

Ecology and behaviour: Nothing is known about the ecology of this species.

Mindanao moonrat (Podogymnura truei)

Taxonomy: P. truei Mearns 1905; described from Mt Apo, Mindanao.

IUCN Category of Threat: Endangered (Bl and 2c).

Description: The length of head and body is approximately 130-150mm, while tail length varies from 40-70mm. The pelage is long, soft and full. Dorsal coloration is predominantly grey mixed with reddishbrown hairs, while the under parts are hoary, slightly mixed with brown hairs. The tail is partially furred and is a buff-purple colour.

Distribution: This species is only known from Mindanao in the Philippine Islands. Also known as the Philippines gymnure and Bagobo ("ground-pig") by natives, it has been collected on Mount Apo at elevations of 1700-2100m, on the eastern slope of Mt McKinley from 1800-2300m and on Mt Kata nglad at an elevation of 1600m.

Habitat: Probably confined to forest, frequenting areas of standing water.

Ecology and behaviour: Almost nothing is known about the life history of this species. Habits are comparable to those of true shrews (Walker, 1991).

IUCN. 1995. Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews - Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. (Compiled by Stone, R. David, IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group). IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. vii + 164 pp. ISBN 2-8317-0062-0

Online version: http://members.vienna.at/shrew/itsesAP95-cover.html

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