Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Sorex minutus - Pygmy Shrew

Range & Status

Widely distributed throughout the Palaearctic and eastwards through Siberia to Lake Baikal, but absent from parts of the Mediterranean (Harris & Yalden, 2008). Native and common in Britain, found at all altitudes throughout mainland Britain (Harris et al ., 1995), and distributed throughout Ireland. Not rare enough to qualify as a Red Data Book species and not included in the Irish Red Data Book (Whilde, 1993). Harris et al . (1995) give an estimated total pre-breeding population of 8,600,000 for England, Scotland and Wales.

Regional Distribution

This species is almost certainly common and widely distributed in Cornwall but absent from the Isles of Scilly. There is no evidence or concern, to date, that this species is having particular problems in Cornwall.

Habitat & Ecology

Found in all types of habitat where there is plenty of ground cover, preferring grassland to woodland (although not in Ireland where Common Shrew is absent). Although largely ground dwelling, Pygmy Shrew will climb into shrubs. Not as numerous as the Common Shrew (Corbet & Harris, 1996) except on moorland and blanket bog. Pygmy Shrew seems to do better in very wet or very dry habitats than Common Shrew (Harris & Yalden, 2008).


The liming of land in watersheds has proved a problem for this species, reducing local populations by 30-55%. Heavy grazing of moorlands and other habitat removes the thick vegetation that this species requires (Harris et al ., 1995).


Protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Schedule 6, they cannot be trapped without a licence; not protected for conservation reasons, but are listed in order to harmonise with European Community Legislation (Morris, 1993). Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995), but not included in the Biodiversity Action Plan list for Cornwall.

Click here to see Aphotoflora images by David Fenwick


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.