Suncus murinus (Linnaeus, 1766)

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson, 2018, Soricidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 8 Insectivores, Sloths and Colugos, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 332-551 : 462

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.6870843


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scientific name

Suncus murinus


190. View Plate 19: Soricidae

Asian House Shrew

Suncus murinus View in CoL

French: Pachyure musquée / German: Moschusspitzmaus / Spanish: Musarana casera de Asia

Other common names: Asian Musk Shrew, Gray Musk Shrew, House Shrew, Indian Musk Shrew, Musk Shrew

Taxonomy. Sorex murinus Linnaeus, 1766 ,

“ Java,” Indonesia .

Many subspecies and forms have been described within S. murinus , with ¢.59 synonyms. Except that S. montanus from Sri Lanka consists of distinct species of S. murinus from genetic and morphological evidences, no subspecies of S. murinus are recognized here. Suncus murinus is believed to have originally been distributed in southern and South-east Asia and

introduced by humans to south-eastern and eastern Asian islands, Arabia, and eastern Africa. In original and introduced distributions, S. murinus shows extensive morphological variation in body size and pelage color, both geographically and individually. Molecular phylogeographic study based on mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene indicated that specimens of S. murinus from Japan (Ryukyu Islands), China, Vietnam, and Indonesia formed a monophyletic group with less genetic variation; those from Sri [Lanka and Myanmar consisted ofat least four different groups each (including S. montanus ); and those from Pakistan consists of two distinct groups. In Arabia and Africa, mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene showed that specimens of S. murinus from Zanzibar Island and south-western Iran had almost the same haplotypes; those from Réunion Island were clearly different from those from Madagascar and Grande Comore and were closely related to the phylogroup consisting of one Sri Lankan group and east and south-eastern Asian specimens. Karyotype also differs geographically: 2n = 40 in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Philippines; 2n = 35-40 in Malaysia; 2n = 30-40 in India; and 2n = 32 in Sri Lanka. Divergence and dispersal history in original and introduced distributions should be reevaluated with additional morphological and genetic studies. Monotypic.

Distribution. Originally distributed throughout the Indo-Malayan Region and S China, including Taiwan, Hainan, and Sri Lanka (only original range shaded in the map). Possible human-mediate introduced range in Maldives, islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Japan (Kyushu and Ryukyu Is), Guam, Palau, and New Guinea. Introduced in historical times into East Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania), Pemba and Zanzibar (Unguja) Is, Madagascar, Comoro Is, Mauritius, Réunion I, and into coastal Arabia (in the vicinity of seaports in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman). View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head-body 90-160 mm, tail 45-110 mm, hindfoot 16-26 mm; weight 23-5-147-3 g. Greater lengths of skulls are 28:6-35 mm. The Asian House Shrew is large, and its body size is highly variable individually and geographically. Males are larger than females, but extent of sexual dimorphism differs geographically. Tail is relatively short and very thick at its base and tapers to fine point; it is covered with short and long silvery white hairs. Eyes are very small. Pelage is short, fine, and dense, varying in color individually and geographically: grayish white, grayish brown, dark gray, and blackish gray. Cases of albino-like individuals were reported from Japan. Females have three pairs of inguinal mammae. Pair of cutaneous scent glandsissituated behind shoulder in both sexes, but more developed in males than females. Skull is strong and heavy and has long and narrow rostrum and long interorbital region. I' is robust. Loss of P? and I’ occurs, varying geographically.

Habitat. Various habitats near villages, towns, and cities: houses, buildings, gardens, rice fields, agriculture fields, livestock farms, grain warehouses, drains. The Asian House Shrew is mostly a commensal of humans but sometimes found in forests, scrublands, grasslands, and riverbanks. It might prefer humid condition but is found in relatively arid areas.

Food and Feeding. The Asian House Shrew is omnivorous and feeds on various items such as insects (particularly crickets and cockroaches), other invertebrates, fruits, human food items, vertebrates (frogs and snakes), and plant materials.

Breeding. Asian House Shrews are monogamous. Before breeding, females construct nests in crevices or under piles of rubbish in some little-frequented storeroom. Breeding season varies geographically: seasonally or throughout the year, and one peak or two peaks per year, probably depending on monsoon season and temperature. Gestation usually lasts 30-31 days, and litters have 1-8 young. Lactation lasts c.14 days, and weaning occurs at 15-20 days. Young starts to grow visible body fur within a few days after birth and are fully furred by the tenth day. Eyes do not open until 14-15 days old. Caravanning behavior is observed 1-3 weeks after birth, where a train or caravan is formed by holding firmly with their mouths onto the tail or hindquarters of their mother or littermate. Presumably, when the mother encounters something edible, she indicated this to the clinging young that break the caravan and fall upon the food. In the wild, the Asian House Shrew generally does not live beyond one year.

Activity patterns. The Asian House Shrew usually is active at night and often produces a high-pitched squeak.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Home ranges average 3190 m* for males and 614 m” for females in Taiwan and 2556 m* for males in Japan (Ryukyu Islands). The Asian House Shrew has a strong, musky odor; and it is considered solitary and intolerant of conspecifics. Vocal sounds are associated with aggressive behavior and other communications.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List.

Bibliography. Ahmed et al. (2009), Choudhury (2016), Duplantier (2013), Garbutt (2007), Harrison & Bates (1991), Heaney et al. (2016), Hutterer (2005b), Hutterer & Tranier (1990), Jiang Xuelong & Hoffmann (2013), Jogahara, Koyasu et al. (2007), Jogahara, Oda et al. (2008), Jogahara, Ogura et al. (2008), Lin Liangkong & Motokawa (2014), Long (2003), Meegaskumbura et al. (2010), Motokawa (2009), Nakamoto & Nakanishi (2013), Natori & Shigehara (1997), Ohdachi et al. (2016), Rickart (2003), Roberts (1997), Srinivasulu & Srinivasulu (2012), Yamagata et al. (1995), Yapa & Ratnavira (2013), Yosida (1982).














Suncus murinus

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson 2018

Sorex murinus

Linnaeus 1766
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