Welcome to another fun-filled Wild Fact. Come on, tell me one other thing you would rather be doing than reading about the Hero Shrew on this beautiful Thursday? See, there is nothing. That’s right animal fans, we are heading to the rodent world to learn about a shrew that looks perfectly normal on the outside but the inside is a whole different story. And remember, it is the inside that really counts. The Hero Shrew is also known as the Armored Shrew and just happens to be native to a little continent called Africa. Since they are restricted to the forest belt of Africa, you will typically find the Hero Shrew in Uganda, Zaire and northern Rwanda.
As I said, the Hero Shrew looks normal on the outside and appears to be an ordinary small mammal. They eat insects, earthworms and of course my personal favourite, frogs, which again is pretty common among rodents such as the Armored Shrew. Now if you took an X-Ray of this particular shrew then you would find that they are anything but normal.
You see the bone structure of the Hero Shrew is quite different than other shrews. How are they different? Great question! For starters they have corrugated, interlocking vertebrae, which are different than most mammals out there. As well, they have 11 lumbar vertebrae (most mammals only have 5) and interlocking spines on their lower and side surfaces. This skeletal setup provides a very strong and flexible structure and actually makes up about 4% of the shrews total weight. The spine of other small mammals is around 0.5-1.16% of their total weight. Are you starting to see why these particular rodents are called Armored Shrews?
Well their unique skeletal makeup doesn’t end with the spine. Their ribs are also thicker compared to other small mammals. Finally, their muscles that extend and flex with the spine are very well developed. This is why these shrews have an unusual gait as their spine flexes in a snake-like manner. So what do all of these internal modifications mean to the Hero Shrew? Well, it means they can withstand the weight of a 160 lb human standing on them without causing any harm. Yep, you read that right! If you ask me, that is pretty crazy.
Well I think that pretty much sums up the Hero Shrew, which just may be the worlds strongest small mammal. No wonder they receive the title “Hero”. Enjoy the rest of your day and I will see you here tomorrow for the last fact of the week.