Macroscelididae


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Macroscelididae

[‚mak·rō·sə′lid·ə‚dē]
(vertebrate zoology)
The single, African family of the mammalian order Macroscelidea.

Macroscelididae

 

(elephant shrews), a family of mammals of the order Insectivora; some zoologists classify the elephant shrews in a separate order. The body length is 9–31.5 cm, and the tail length is 8–26 cm. The color of the fur is uniformly sandy brown or brown. The nose is elongated into a flexible snout. In a number of characters, elephant shrews are considered the most highly organized insectivores.

There are five genera, embracing 18 species. Elephant shrews are distributed in Africa and on the island of Zanzibar. They inhabit open semideserts and savannas; some species inhabit tropical forests. Elephant shrews are very mobile and move by leaps when in danger. They feed on insects and small vertebrates. One litter, containing one or two offspring, is produced each year. The largest representatives are hunted for their meat.