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Golden rumped elephant shrew

Rhynchocyon cirne


The golden-rumped elephant shrew is the largest species in the African elephant shrew family. It is only found in the coastal Arabuko Sokoke National Park north of Mombasa in Kenya. Its name is derived from the conspicuous golden fur on its hindquarters, which contrasts strongly with its otherwise dark fur. On juveniles, the fur shows vestigial traces of the checkerboard pattern seen on another giant elephant shrew, the checkered elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon cirnei).

The golden-rumped elephant shrew lives on the forest floor of evergreen forests, rooting through the leaf litter for 80% of the waking day looking for grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and other small invertebrates. 

Fun Facts

The golden-rumped elephant shrew has evolved various strategies to avoid predators, particularly snakes (such as black mambas and cobras) and the southern banded snake-eagle. It is very fast, capable of running at 25 km/h. When it detects a predator within its escape distance, it will run. If, however, the predator is outside its escape distance, the elephant shrew will advertise its presence by slapping the leaf litter. This lets the predator know it has been seen.

In the event of a chase or an ambush, the golden flash of fur will also often deflect the predator's attention away from the head and onto the rump, which has thickened skin. As a final precaution, each shrew maintains several nests. The golden-rumped elephant shrew is classified as endangered because of its highly restricted and fragmented environment. It is also hunted for food by people and killed by feral dogs.


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