Canada: Scaling down

September 2018

There are days that you remember for the smallest possible reasons. I honestly thought it was a beetle, scootling across a forest road, but, no. It’s a mammal. The smallest mammal that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

american pygmy shrew2 rmnp sept 18

It’s about the size of a £2 coin. Definitely a shrew, possibly an American pygmy shrew Sorex hoyi, the second smallest mammal on Earth. There are hummingbirds that would dwarf this bundle of whiskers and fur. Uncaring of the two-legged giants and their cameras, it predates invertebrates amongst pebbles that must seem like monoliths.

american pygmy shrew3 rmnp sept 18

It’s easy to see a forest in only the big pieces – clouds, trees, lakes. But this wonderland at the autumn-winter boundary continues to enchant with surprises.

I used to watch belted kingfishers when I lived on Vancouver Island. This one cuts a fine figure against Manitoba trees sprinkled with white.

belted kingfisher rmnp sept 18

And it is still full of seasonal boundary lines out there.

rmnp road sept 18

rmnp road2 sept 18

Afternoon brings something of a thaw. And with it, a welcome face.

bear2 rmnp sept 18

Not a particularly large bear, but I wouldn’t even like to guess how many shrews would equal the weight of just his head.

6 thoughts on “Canada: Scaling down

  1. Hahaha, interesting comparison between shrew and a bear head. Now, if we would put a humpback whale into equation… 😀
    I didn’t even know shrews exist. If I would have seen it anywhere I would have thought it was a mouse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, I took up the challenge. Google says that humpback whales weigh 30,000 kg, and American pygmy shrews 3.4 grams. I think that makes it 882,352 shrews per whale…approximately, LOL.

      Shrews are easily overlooked but are not actually rodents. They’re insectivores that are vaguely related to hedgehogs, but are very strange little things. The long nose is a classic identification feature. Not too sure which species you would have had in Serbia, but I found a bicoloured shrew (Crocidura leucodon) in Croatia. In my part of England, we have two species, one of which is very small. Not quite as small as the one in this post, though.


  2. Adele, neat find! I had a Shrew nip my finger many years ago! It wasn’t a Pygmy, just a regular size. Made me bleed! Boys putting there hands where they shouldn’t!
    That’s a lovely looking bear. I know you would have been thrilled to see it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ouch! I got bitten by an injured squirrel once – never forgotten that, either!

      Yes, it was great to see the bears at Riding Mountain. I hope they’re all asleep by now though!


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