Qilian Shrew | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Qilian Shrew | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Qilian Shrew Overview


The Qilian shrew is a diminutive mammal with a sleek, cylindrical body, typically measuring around 8 to 11 centimeters in length. It features a soft, dense fur coat that ranges in color from grayish-brown to dark brown. Its pointed snout houses sharp teeth adapted for insectivorous feeding, while its tiny eyes are well-suited for its nocturnal lifestyle.

This shrew's tail is notably shorter than its body and is covered in the same fur as the rest of its body, contributing to its unassuming appearance in its alpine habitat.

Origins And Evolution

The Qilian shrew, a small insectivorous mammal, is believed to have originated in the alpine regions of China during the late Cenozoic era, approximately several million years ago. Fossil records indicate that it shares a lineage with ancient shrews adapted to cold, high-altitude environments.

Over time, the Qilian shrew evolved specific adaptations for its harsh habitat, such as a dense fur coat for insulation and a compact body to conserve energy. Its evolutionary journey is marked by the development of a high metabolic rate, allowing it to thrive in the low-oxygen conditions of its mountainous home.

Behavior and Lifestyle

It is a primarily nocturnal creature, with its most active hours occurring during the night. This shrew leads a solitary life, rarely interacting with others of its kind. Its diet is insectivorous, with a preference for insects and small invertebrates found in its alpine habitat.

Due to the extreme cold and limited food availability in its high-altitude environment, the Qilian shrew has developed a hibernation-like state during harsh winters, allowing it to conserve energy and survive the frigid conditions. 

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Eulipotyphla
  • Family: Soricidae
  • Genus: Sorex
  • Species: Sorex ciliosus


  • Qilian Mountains, China
  • Eastern Tibetan Plateau

 Fast Facts

  • Name: Qilian Shrew
  • Scientific Name: Sorex cansulus
  • Habitat: Qilian Mountains
  • Diet: Insects, worms
  • Physical Features: Small, agile
  • Nocturnal: Night hunter
  • Solitary: Independent lifestyle
  • Unique Order: Soricomorpha
  • Lifespan: Short-lived
  • Conservation Status: Data Deficient
  • Fun Facts: Energetic burrower

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Dark brown
  • Skin Type: Velvety fur
  • Top Speed: Rapid dashes
  • Lifespan: Brief existence
  • Weight: Lightweight body
  • Length: Petite size
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: Early maturity
  • Age of Weaning: Swift independence

Qilian Shrew FAQs

Q: What is the Qilian Shrew?

The Qilian Shrew is a small mammal native to the high-altitude regions of the Qilian Mountains in China.

Q: What does it look like?

It typically has a grayish-brown to dark brown fur coat and measures about 8 to 11 centimeters in length.

Q: Where is its habitat?

It primarily inhabits alpine regions, particularly the Qilian Mountains.

Q: What does the Qilian Shrew eat?

It is insectivorous, primarily feeding on insects and small invertebrates.

Q: Is it nocturnal?

Yes, it is primarily active during the night.

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