All creatures, big and small, have their own innate characteristics, traits and abilities to survive. For instance, smaller mammals have their own special capabilities and advantages which are different to their bigger counterparts. They can burrow into the smaller holes and crevasses that bigger animals can’t manage. Their tiny bodies enable them to hide easily unnoticed, move really fast, or climb upon the weakest branches. Not to mention, these little creatures are irresistibly adorable!
The common tree shrew (Tupaia glis) is a wee mammal that is otherwise classified as the biggest among all the other shrews. The adults’ average size range is between 16 to 21 centimeters in length, and the average weight is around 190 grams. It is common to some parts of Southeast Asia particularly in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The African pygmy mouse (Mus minutoides) is one of the smallest known rodents in the world. Adult mice measure less than 7 centimeters long and weigh less than 10 grams. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the mice are also kept as exotic pets.
One unique trait of these tiny rodents is piling up pebbles in front of its burrow and drinking the dew that the pebbles have gathered overnight. Doesn’t that look sweet?
The American shrew mole (Neurotrichus gibbsii) is the smallest shrew species in the world. Found in many parts of North America, it measures about 5 centimeters in length and weighs only about 10 grams. Unlike most moles, the American shrew moles have smaller front paws that do not face outwards from their body, a physical characteristic that is more common in shrews.
Also known as Kitt’s hog-nosed bat, the bumblebee bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) is a smaller species of bat native to western Thailand and southeast Burma. These tiny flying mammals usually live in limestone caves by the rivers. Weighing only about 2 grams and having a tiny skull, the bumblebee bat is considered by many as the smallest mammal in the world.
Unfortunately, the bumblebee bat’s numbers are under threat. They are now listed as a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their alarming reduction rate is blamed largely on deforestation and efforts to conserve and increase their numbers are being enforced.
These Etruscan shrews (Suncus etruscus), are the smallest existing mammals by mass. Their weight averages less than 2 grams, and are usually 4 centimeters long. However, these shrews are quite rapid, both in terms of their movement and their metabolism. Their size may be small but their appetite is incredibly big. In fact, these shrews eat about twice its own weight!
These little rodents can be incredibly fast runners and high jumpers! Jerboas (Allactaga tetradactyla) live on the scorching deserts of north Africa and some parts of China (Manchuria). The jerboas’ long hind legs resemble those of kangaroos. That’s why jerboas are sometimes erroneously referred to as kangaroo rats which are another type of rodent.
An adult jerboa’s average length is around 2 to 6 inches and its weight is less than one ounce up to a few ounces. But its tiny frame and light weight, aside from its strong hind legs, allow the jerboa to run as fast as 24 kilometers per hour and jump as high as 9.8 feet!
The least weasel, or just weasel (Mustela nivalis) is considered to be the smallest true carnivore on the planet. Least weasels are scattered throughout many parts of the world, including Eurasia, North America and North Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and many other areas. Adult weasels can grow up to 19 centimeters long and weigh up to 78 grams.
Don’t be deceived by its cute, furry appearance; the least weasels are clever and excellent predators. Usually, smaller rodents are the weasels’ favorite meal. Least weasels would also kill even bigger prey including farm animals like chickens, that’s why they’re sometimes seen as exasperating pests.
The smallest marsupial on the planet, the long-tailed planigale (Planigale ingrami) is native mostly in the northern parts of Australia. Compared to other smaller mammals, the planigale is noted for the peculiar shape of its head — flattened, and much broader than deep, and usually one-fifth as deep as as it is wide. According to experts, this characteristic allows the planigale to squeeze into the tiny soil crevices. The planigale weighs less than 5 grams and is less than 65 millimeters long.
Like all other lemurs, a mouse lemur is native to the African island of Madagascar. It is the smallest of all lemurs, measuring just around 10 centimeters and weighing just about 30 grams. You could easily fit this furry little creature in the palm of your hand.
Unfortunately, mouse lemurs are considered an endangered species; as of 2015 only about 21 species are recognized.
Pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea) are sometimes dubbed “pocket monkeys” because they can easily fit in a shirt’s breast pocket. Native to the Amazon forests in South America, the pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey in the world. Adults can grow up to 16 centimeters long and and typically weigh less than 140 grams.
Belonging to a small group of possums, the pygmy possum is a marsupial. Their length ranges from 5 to 12 centimeters while their weight is usually no more than 10 grams. Native to Australia and Papua New Guinea, these little guys are usually found hanging upside down from tree branches.