Observations on the feeding behavior of the Sierra de Aroa shrew (Cryptotis aroensis, Eulipotyphla: Soricidae), in Venezuela
The shrew Cryptotis aroensis from Sierra de Aroa, Venezuela, was recently described. Little is known on the natural history of the species. This note reports the first records on the foraging behavior of C. aroensis in captivity feeding on invertebrates and small vertebrates. We placed one individual previously captured in a pitfall trap inside a plastic box for ten days. We also added litter, log remains, bromeliads and mosses inside the box. Potential invertebrate and vertebrate preys were captured and placed simultaneously with the shrew to make observations on locomotion, posture, feeding preferences and prey manipulation. We supplied 17 invertebrate and two small vertebrate preys belonging to three phyla and seven classes during the period of captivity (Table 1). The foraging behavior consisted of sniffing the substrate and air (Figure 1A, B). The stalking behavior on prey consisted of rapid movements above or under the litter, and catches were made directly with the snout (Figure 1C, D). Handling prey for consumption involved tearing, cutting and chewing a small portion; the same pattern was repeated until the prey was consumed completely. Cryptotis aroensis consumed a variety of prey, but it showed no apparent preference for any prey, contrary to what was reported for C. meridensis in Merida, Venezuela (Woodman and Diaz de Pascual 2004). C. aroensis differed from C. meridensis in the search and capture strategies, but coincided with C. parvus (Whitaker 1974). Although the information reported in this note should not be taken as conclusive because it derived from a single individual under inadequate study conditions; nonetheless, it represents the first record on the behavior of the species in captivity.
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