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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 araneus - Common Shrew

Range & Status

Distributed widely throughout the Palaearctic, except for most of the Mediterranean region and the Iberian Peninsula. Replaced in western Europe and on Jersey by closely related and similar Millet' s Shrew S. coronatus (Corbet & Harris, 1996; Harris & Yalden, 2008). In Britain it is native and common throughout, at all altitudes, but absent from Ireland, Orkney, Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and some of the Inner Hebrides, Lundy and the Channel Islands. Not rare enough to qualify as Red Data Book species (see ' conservation' below). Harris et al . (1995) give a total pre-breeding population estimate for Britain of 41,700,000.

Regional Distribution

The Common Shrew is almost certainly very common and widely distributed throughout Cornwall but absent from the Isles of Scilly.

Habitat & Ecology

Common Shrew is found in most habitats and they can be particularly abundant in thick grass, bushy scrub, hedgerow and deciduous woodland. They live in heather moorland and stable scree at high altitudes (Corbet & Harris, 1993). They can climb quite well and are occasionally found in aerial vegetation, sometimes occupying the nests of Harvest Mouse in bushes (Harris & Yalden, 2008).


The continued loss of prime habitat and the use of insecticides in agriculture; although common this species has almost certainly declined (Harris et al ., 1995). Common Shrew is, however, resistant to habitat degradation and modification (Harris & Yalden, 2008).


Protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Schedule 6, they can not be trapped without a licence. Protection is not because of rarity, being placed on the protected list 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.


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.