As its name implies, the shrew-faced squirrel has a long, tapered snout that causes it to superficially resemble the common tree shrew. The long snout, along with reduced upper incisors and a long tongue, is an adaptation to help the squirrel catch and eat insects on the forest floor. The tree shrew, by comparison, has a wider gape than the shrew-faced squirrel, and a longer but less bushy tail. The resemblence between the two species is so close that the people of the region call them by the same name, tupai.
The shrew-faced squirrel is a medium-sized squirrel, about 7.5-9.5 inches in length for the head and body, with a tail about 4-5 inches long. The back fur can be reddish brown or olive brown, with white or yellowish white fur on the belly.
Although not considered a rare or threatened species, the shrew-faced squirrel is secretive and rarely seen. It nests primarily in hollow logs where females give birth to and raise one or two young which are born blind and hairless.