Symud i'r prif gynnwys

NATURE IN WALES VOL. 4, No. 2. SUMMER 1958 SHREWS IN WALES Peter Crowcroft, now in charge of the Mammal Room of the British Museum of Natural History, has written a clear and crisp, scientific yet entertaining account of British shrews in THE LIFE OF THE SHREW, published by Max Reinhardt, London, at 15s. We are obliged to author and publishers for permission to reproduce the sketches opposite showing the distinctive characters of the three species inhabiting Wales and universally distributed therein, except on the smallest islands (none is found on Skokholm, but both common and pigmy shrews are found on Skomer, Caldey and Ramsey). Topsell (History of Four-footed Beasts, 1607) describes the shrew as a ravening beast, feigning itself gentle and tame, but being touched it biteth deep and poisoneth deadly. It beareth a cruel mind, desiring to hurt anything, neither is there any creature it loveth. They go very slowly, they are fraudulent and take their prey by deceit. Many times they gnaw the ox's hoofs in the stable. They love the rotten flesh of a raven And with many another strange habit the old writers fancifully endowed this shrilly-squeaking sharp-nosed mammal. Its habits, voice and inquisitive appearance led to a deadly reputation which Maurice Burton, in the introduction to this book, describes from the literature from Roman times to Shakespeare and Gilbert White. The facts as presented by Dr. Crowcroft from his personal studies are very different, but no less fascinating indeed they are much more interesting-as truth should be. The object of this brief review however is not to summarise the author's work but to advise readers to buy the book. They will not be disappointed the social behaviour of these animals, their omnivorous feeding habits, astonishing appetite, habit of refection (re-ingestion), reproduction, fighting, longevity and numbers are adequately described, and Dr. Crowcroft shows how easily and simply shrews can be kept for study in captivity. Least known but found in every county of Wales, the water- shrew has also been least studied, and here lies a special opportunity for observers in Wales, where, with abundant streams and pools available, this handsome mammal may prove to be as common as anywhere in Europe. (The Editors)