Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Comic from Sunday Times, Life Section, 18 October 2009 by
Lee Chee Chew, creator of the comics strip CHEW ON IT.

Reading this comic reminds me of another type of mistaken identity that happens most of the time around the Post War Tiong Bahru side.

If you like to take walks around the Post War side of Tiong Bahru Estate after sunset, you would not have missed all the “squeaks” and small little mouse-like creatures scurrying around.

Many people, including the residents here, have mistaken these furry little animals for a mouse.(Hence the perception that this place is infested with rats.)

Actually, these small mouse-like creatures are not even classified as a rodent and they are not even closely related to a rodent. (I will skip most of the technical bit and zoom in on the main points coz from afar, both looked the same to me)

The most noticeable difference between a rat and a shrew is their pointed muzzles and small eyes.

These mouse-like creatures that is common here in Tiong Bahru is actually a brown musk shrew or a house shrew as they are commonly called.

Pictures taken from Ecology Asia
Shrews could be found all over the world except in New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand

Since shrews are Insectivore, they do have an important role to play in the Tiong Bahru ecosystem.

They help to keep the cockroach and insect population in checks.

These shrews could be seen moving around quite openly in the evenings and I have accidentally stepped on them on several occasions.

The reason why they seemed so oblivious to human presence could be because they have very small eyes and they cannot see very well.

I’m not sure if the species found here moves around by echolocation but with their frequent squeaks while moving around, I cannot help but feel that they do.

Anyway, for those who has musophobia, this information will probably do nothing to help you.....just like probably nothing will help me overcome my fear for cockroaches!



Veron said...

I'm surprised to hear that there are such creatures running around freely! I may have seen them around but mistake them as rats. Are they very common in Singapore?

"The reason why they seemed so oblivious to human presence could be because they have very small eyes and they cannot see very well."

That sounds really cute and sad at the same time. Hope people will take better care not to step on them. Thanks to you, I am now more educated.

SGalf said...

I tried avoiding them while walking but they somehow seems destined to be stepped on by me no matter how hard I try to avoid them.

Anyway, they just let out a loud shriek and I will retract my feet very quickly.

They don't seems to be hurt and will go about foraging in the grass after that.

I only hate the experience when I'm wearing slippers.

Taoism said...

What I always wonder about is that there are so many cats in Tiong Bahru. I think they are fed so much by the Auntie's that they are lazy to hunt for the rodents.

SGalf said...

I think the cat feeders are aggravating the cockcroach populations. I can see a bunch of them congregrating at the leftover cat food in the evenings.

Isn't leaving cat food around also considered as littering?