Key to skulls of
British Insectivores
Insectivores have continuous rows of similar, pointed teeth, considered by taxonomists to be a primitive feature. There are eight British insectivores, three of which only occur in the Channel Islands.

The hedgehog is much larger than the others :

1.a) Overall length greater than 40mm. HEDGEHOG
b) Overall length less than 40mm. 2
2.a) Overall length close to 35mm, prominent canine teeth, with zygomatic arch.MOLE
b) Overall length much less than 35mm, front pair of teeth much larger than the rest, no zygomatic arch.3
The remaining insectivores are shrews. Their skulls are very small and fragile, but shrew jaws are easily recognised.

A powerful handlens or low-power microscope is necessary for the identification of shrew skulls.

3.a) Teeth pigmented (red tipped). 4
b) Teeth not pigmented (Channel Islands only). White-Tooth
Front upper teeth of Common Shrew, Sorex araneus.

1 - 5) Upper single-pointed teeth.

F) First upper tooth.

4.a) Upper surface of first lower tooth smooth, four upper single-pointed teeth. WATER
b) Upper surface of first lower tooth wavy, five upper single-pointed teeth. 5
5.a) Upper tooth row less than 7mm, third upper single-pointed tooth larger than second. PYGMY
b) Upper tooth row longer than 7mm, third upper single-pointed tooth smaller than second. COMMON
The French Shrew, Sorex coronatus is very similar to the Common Shrew. Its British distribution is confined to Jersey.

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