Shrewd Naming! Sunderland’s greater white-toothed shrew is Britain’s first new animal since the 1920s.

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By Creative Media News

A Facebook photo of an unusual-looking animal captured by a cat led to the discovery of the first non-native mammal to establish itself in the United Kingdom in the 1920s.

The Greater White-toothed Shrew, which resembles a character from the children’s television show The Clangers, has never been discovered on mainland Britain.

Ecologists are concerned that the species will eradicate Pygmy Shrew populations in the United Kingdom, as it did in Ireland, where it first appeared in 2007.

Melissa Young, a Sunderland-based digital marketing executive, uploaded photographs of the newly discovered shrew, which had been captured by her cat in the garage.

Shrewd naming! Sunderland's greater white-toothed shrew is britain's first new animal since the 1920s.
Shrewd naming! Sunderland's greater white-toothed shrew is britain's first new animal since the 1920s.

The photographs were discovered by the ecologist Ian Bond.

Now, tests conducted by specialists from the British Mammal Society show that it is a Greater White-Toothed Shrew, which is native to western continental Europe, Guernsey, Alderney, and Herm, as well as a small portion of north Africa.

The population of shrews in Sunderland would be the most northern in the world.

According to ecologists, the animal’s entrance could herald bad news for native shrews in the United Kingdom and is a ‘worrying trend

It would be the first non-indigenous mammal to establish itself in the United Kingdom since the American mink in the 1920s.

In Ireland, where the shrew is also an introduced species, it outcompetes local populations.

The Greater White-Toothed Shrew has become established in Ireland, and wherever it has been discovered, it has eradicated colonies of pygmy shrews, a species native to the United Kingdom.

Shrewd naming! Sunderland's greater white-toothed shrew is britain's first new animal since the 1920s.

Mr. Bond stated that the image he observed on Facebook drew his attention.

He stated, “White-toothed Shrews have a head that resembles Finger Mouse or the Clangers more than a conventional shrew.”

The problem with the identification was that they had never before been observed on the British mainland!

Melissa froze the suspected shrew so that additional testing could be conducted.

Ecotype Genetics and Swift Ecology Ltd.’s later DNA analysis proved that it was the Greater White-Toothed Shrew.

Allan McDevitt of the Mammal Society stated, “Given the fast proliferation of the bigger white-toothed shrew in Ireland, it is unsurprising that it has made its way to mainland Britain.”

“However, this is a worrisome trend as this invading shrew is linked to the local extinction of the native pygmy shrew in Ireland.”

It is known to outcompete other species of shrews on other islands, thus its range and potential effects on other shrew species must be examined immediately.

It is unknown how the shrew got to Britain.

Since at least 2015, Melissa’s cats appear to have been catching White-toothed Shrews.

Given that photographs of the shrews date back seven years, the British Mammal Society suggests that the species may be quite widespread without anyone noticing.

Melissa stated, “I’ve always kept my cats indoors to minimize their influence on wildlife, so I was shocked when they began trapping shrews regularly.

‘Thank goodness, the majority were able to escape unharmed, but the opportunity to study those who did not survive has led to this vital finding!

The wildlife on your doorstep is incredible, and I’m grateful to Ian for his observations and guidance that lead us to take a closer look at something that most people wouldn’t give a second glance.

The British Mammal Society encourages the public to report any odd shrew sightings on their Mammal Mapper app or iRecord, an alternative wildlife-spotting tool.

Gavin Measures, the lead for Invasive Non-Native Species at Natural England, stated, “Melissa’s discovery of the Great White-toothed Shrew is a brilliant illustration of the importance of being attentive for invasive species in our gardens, parks, and green areas.

This non-indigenous shrew has negatively impacted the Irish ecology. The presence of this species in the United Kingdom necessitates additional research to determine its distribution and potential influence on our small animal population.’

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