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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK
Zoo staff foxed by speedy shrews
Tree shrew
The shrews are also skilful climbers
A Cornish zoo is facing an unusual problem in determining how well some of its inhabitants are breeding.

The adult pair of tree shrews arrived at Newquay Zoo six months ago and have a number of offspring who are proving difficult to count.

John Meek, the Zoo's Animal Collection Manager, said the creatures move so quickly the zoo is still unsure how many babies there are.

"We cannot tell if we keep counting the same one," he said.

Mixed enclosure

"They would normally have three to four babies and so we will keep an eye on them and hope we see them in the same place at the same time, hopefully standing still."

The tree shrews live in a mixed enclosure at the zoo's rainforest exhibit which is also home to sloths, mouse deer, golden lion tamarins and exotic tropical birds.

The shrews are skilful climbers as well as being agile runners.

The female produces three to four young, keeping them in a separate nest and feeding them every two days.

This is thought to be a way of helping to ensure predators find it hard to locate the babies.

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