Those who use blinds and hides are aware just how much life there is in the forest. Not because they see it but because they hear it. When you are sat alone in the forest you are alert to every sound. The closer the sound the more alert you become. Indeed a day alone in a forest hide can vary between quiet slumber and extreme anxiety. That anxiety is usually caused by the myriad of close-by sounds that one's imagination paints fearful encounters upon.
The forest floor is a trove of shuffling feet and rustling leaves. And the tiny feet of small mammals, reptiles and birds often sound as loud as an elephant’s footfall when you are alone.
Jungle fowl, squirrels and skinks usually account for 95% of the forest floor sounds one encounters, but once in a while it is something else.
I recently had such an encounter in the Phu Khieo – Nam Nao Forest Complex. I heard a faint rustle, I became alert, stretching my neck to try and see the sound's origin. My anxiety levels were already high having had elephants pass just 100 meters away earlier. I knew it was small whatever it was, as it was so close and the rustling was so very rapid. But I could see nothing. I strained further. And then I glimpsed a beetle in the undergrowth about 4 cm long half hidden under leaf litter. I felt a little deflated to say the least. I looked again. It was moving too fast for a beetle though, but what else could it be?
And as I peered closer, I found myself looking at the smallest shrew I could ever have imagined; indeed I was later to discover I was staring at the smallest mammal in the world. The Pygmy White-toothed Shrew - Suncus etruscus. The smallest mammal in the world by weight. How great such encounters can be, Thailand's forests continue to amaze and delight me, with new personal first sightings all the time.
Also known as the Etruscan Shrew, Pygmy White-toothed Shrew, Savi's Pygmy Shrew, as well as the White-toothed Pygmy Shrew.