What is the world’s smallest mammal?

Bumblebee Bat

There has been some debate on this, depending on how you define an animal’s size. The Bumblebee Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) is definitely the world’s smallest species of bat. It is about 30mm in length and weighs about 2 grams (less than an American penny). It is the only known species in its genus and is found in a tiny region of western Thailand, in the Sai Yok National Park, Kanchanaburi Province.

One of the more interesting notes is that the Bumblebee Bat was virtually unknown until 1974 when it was discovered by Kitti Thonglongya, a biologist in Thailand. Their habitat has been highly affected by deforestation and unsustainable levels of teak logging. In 1982, the Royal Forest Department of the Thailand Government only found 160 of them living in 3 caves, despite extensive surveys. Bumblebee bats are now considered one of the twelve most endangered species on the planet.

The other mammal in competition for the title of the “world’s smallest” is the Etruscan Pygmy Shrew (Suncus etruscus). This shrew weighs less than the Bumblebee Bat but the bat’s skull is shorter. [Wikipedia] The smallest mature specimens of this shrew are thought to weigh about 1.3 grams and measure 36 mm long. This small mammal is 60 mm from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. This shrew has a lifespan of about 15 months and lives the forests and brush areas between Southern Asia and Southern Europe.

Sources: Portland State UniversityExperience Festival.