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the web of life in southern Africa

Macroscelidea (elephant shrews)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Afrotheria

Contains a single family, the Macroscelididae. Elephant shrews are endemic to Africa. They derive their name from the elongated, highly mobile trunk-like snout. The nostrils are at the tip. They have a very long, thinly tapering, pink tongue, that can curl around the top of the muzzle to clean the fur. They have large thin rounded ears, and a fairly long tail that is sparely haired with a tuft at the end. They have large eyes that are surrounded by a white eye ring. The hindlegs and feet are much larger than the forelimbs. They walk around normally on all fours when searching for food, but are capable of large kangaroo-like leaps when alarmed or rapid locomotion is required. Elephant-shrews occur singly or in pairs and are usually active at night with reduced activity during the day.

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Petrodromus tetradactylus (Four-toed elephant-shrew)

Macroscelides proboscideus (Round-eared elephant-shrew)


Elephantulus fuscus (Peters' short-snouted elephant-shrew)


Elephantulus brachyrhynchus (Short-snouted elephant-shrew)


Elephantulus intufi (Bushveld elephant-shrew)

Elephantulus rupestris (Smith's rock elephant-shrew)

Elephantulus rupestris (Smith's rock elephant-shrew)

Elephantulus myurus (Rock elephant-shrew)


Elephantulus edwardii (Cape rock elephant-shrew)

Endemic to the Western Cape where it is found in rocky areas. It easts insects and other invertebrates, with a preference for ants and termites.