Short-Tailed Shrew


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Common Name
Short-Tailed Shrew
Category
Mammals
ScientificName
Blarina brevicauda
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Insectivora
Family
Soricidae
Genus
Blarina
Species
brevicauda
SubSpecies

 

Description
Small mammal; dark gray to brown, short soft fur; short legs and tail; pointed nose; no visible ears; small eyes; 32 black-tipped teeth
Size
3 – 5 in. (7.62 – 12.7 cm) total length; 0.5 – 1 in. (1.27 – 2.54 cm) tail length; 0.5 – 1 oz. (14.17 – 28.35g) weight 
Ecological Role
The short-tailed shrew patrols its underground tunnels in search of prey that humans consider pests, such as insects, slugs, and field mice. Some predators such as foxes and dogs may not find the short-tailed shrew to be a good meal because of the musk glands located on the hips and stomach of this shrew. Predators that prey upon the short-tailed shrew include the rattlesnake, copperhead, rat snake, great horned owl, screech owl, house cat, bass, and trout.
Fun Facts
  • The short-tailed shrew has poor eyesight, sharp hearing, and is highly sensitive to touch. They must eat frequently because they have a high metabolic rate and may starve in a few hours. Male shrews mark their territory with a strong musk odor using glands that are located on their stomach and hips. Adults are usually solitary and will fight over territory.
  • The short-tailed shrew spends most of its time underground but they have been found climbing up tree trunks in search of food. The short-tailed shrew is the largest shrew and only venomous mammal found in North America. Its saliva contains poisons that paralyze its victims. Paralyzed victims may be consumed over a period of a few days. Although this saliva is not poisonous to humans, the bite may cause swelling and pain.
  • We have both the northern and southern short-tailed shrew in Kentucky. Blarina brevicauda is the northern and Blarina carolinensis is the southern. The southern short-tailed shrew’s known distribution is Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Laurel, Marshall, and McCracken counties in Kentucky.
Food
Insects, earthworms, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, sow bugs, beetles; snails, mice, salamanders, young birds; nuts, fungi, other plant material; meadow voles, shrews
Cover
Tunnels underground, may use other small animal tunnels; will nest underneath logs or rocks, nests made of leaves, roots, and grass; may have a resting nest and maternal nest
Nest
 
Breeding
Late February through March; may form pair bond; male pursues female by making clicking sounds; female may reject offers with loud squeaks and chattering; females can breed by 6 weeks of age, males by 12 weeks
Eggs
 
Habitat
Forests, marshes, brush land, and grassland
Kentucky Distribution
Statewide
Life Cycle
 
Life Span
 
Life Stage
 
Reproduction
 
Seasonal Changes
The short-tailed shrew is active at all times of day throughout the year. It stores food for the winter.
Spawning
 
Status
Secure
Uses
 
Voice
Squeaks, chattering, clicks for echolocation, or sounds that are out of the human hearing range
Young
Born in 20 – 23 days; 2 – 3 litters per year, 5 – 8 young per litter; born hairless with both eyes and ears closed; weigh 0.035 oz. (1 g) at birth and are about the size of a honeybee; develop fur at 10 days; young leave the nest at 18-20 days; teeth develop at 22 days; usually live one to two years 
What We Can Do
Keep cats inside. Feral cats are predators and if given the chance will prey upon the short-tailed shrew.
Host
 
Diagnosis and Control
 
Interesting Facts
 
Contributed By
 
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