The Order Insectivora
Insect-eating mammals
Most members of this loosely knit group are small, primitive mammals with a long, sensitive snout, clawed toes, and the cheek teeth have sharp, conical cusps, enabling them to seize and crush insects. Most members of the order have five toes on each foot.
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Family Tenrecidae
Tenrecs: 20 species
Tenrecs have long pointed snouts and live on Madagascar and the Comoros Islands Ithey have been introduced to Mahe in the Seychelles).
On Madagascar they have radiated to fill a range of niches; e.g. some are spiny and some burrow.
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Family Solenodonidae
Solenodons: 2 species
These are comparatively large, stoutly built nocturnal animals with long, nearly naked tails and very long snouts. They live on Haiti and Cuba.
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Family Potamogalidae
Otter shrews: 3 species
Externally resembling small otters, these mammals found only in tropical Africa, have soft fur with a protective coat of coarse guard hairs. They eat small fish and crustaceans.
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Family Chrysochloridae
Golden moles: 20 species
These mammals are the Sub-Saharan African equivalent of the true moles. They have thick fur with a metallic golden to violet lustre, loose skin, a smooth leathery pad on the muzzle, used for burrowing into the soil, eyes covered with hairy skin, and small ears concealed by fur. They feed mainly on worms and insects.
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Family Erinaceidae
Hedgehogs: 15 species
Hedgehogs are covered with short, barbless spines, except on the belly, and when disturbed they can roll into a ball for protection. They range throughout Europe, Africa and Asia.
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Family Soricidae
Shrews: >200 species
Shrews are small, short-legged mammals with a long, pointed nose, short dense fur, and small weak eyes. They are found throughout the world except in Australia and polar regions.
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Family Talpidae
Moles: 19 species
The short, thick, cylindrical body, minute eyes and ears, short neck and short, stout limbs of moles help make them highly efficient burrowers. The front feet, turned permanently outwards, move the earth aside with a breast-stroke action. The velvety fur will lie in any direction, and moles can move backwards as well as forwards in their tunnels. They are found throughout much of North America, Europe and Asia.
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Family Macroscelididae
Elephant shrews: 14 species
Elephant shrews, found only in Africa, are rat-sized animals with a long, scaly tail, a long, sensitive snout, and large eyes. Most are active during the day, taking refuge at night in burrows of other animals or in holes in the ground. The young are well developed at birth and can walk almost immediately. Elephant shrews eat insects, eggs and small mammals.
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