Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew

The Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Rhynchocyon chrysopygus, is a species of elephant shrew native to Africa and only found in the coastal Arabuko Sokoke National Park located north of Mombassa in Kenya. It lives on the forest floor mainly around evergreens. It is the largest member of the shrew family.

This shrew is named for the conspicuous golden fur on its hindquarters which contrasts greatly with its otherwise dark fur. It is a very fast creature, capable of running at 15 mph. In the event of it detecting a predator within its ‘flight distance’ it will bound off. If, however, the predator is outside its flight distance the elephant shrew will advertise its presence by slapping the leaf litter. This lets the predator know that it has been seen and it should not waste its time chasing the elephant shrew. In the event of a chase, or an ambush, the golden flash of fur will also often deflect the predator’s attention away from the head and onto the rump, which has thickened skin.

The Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew forages through leaf litter for 80% of the waking day looking for grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and other small invertebrates. Among its natural predators are the Southern Banded harrier Eagle and Black Mamba, as well as other cobras. These shrews maintain several nests as a trick in fooling predators to not associate finding a hole equals finding food. It is considered vulnerable on the endangered species list.