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The energy requirements of reproducing and non-reproducing females of three species of Crocidura (C. russula, C. viaria, C. olivieri), and two species of Sorex (S. coronatus, S. minutus) were measured. Members of these two genera show different rates of metabolism and reproductive strategies (extreme altriciality and larger litter size in Sorex). During pregnancy, the daily energy intake (on either an absolute or a mass-specific basis) remained close to the non-reproductive value in all species. The absolute energy intake increased strongly after parturition and was influenced by the litter size. Peak energy intake of lactating females was extremely high, typically between 100% and 200% above the non-reproductive requirements in the Crocidura and about 300% above the non-reproductive intake in the Sorex. The mass-specific daily energy intake was reduced during lactation in the three smaller species but not in C. viaria and C. olivieri. This decrease probably involves the different thermoregulatory abilities and/or basal rate of metabolism of the pups. Average reproductive effort was about 50%, in the Crocidura species and above 150% in the Sorex species. The higher effort in the latter is partly due to a larger litter size. But in addition, extreme altriciality in the Sorex leads to an earlier increase in the energy requirements and thus is an energetically more expensive reproductive mode. The present results support the hypothesis that a higher basal rate of metabolism is associated with a higher reproductive effort in shrews.