Short-Tailed Shrew
Blarina brevicauda
Family Soricidae

* Fur lead-gray, very short.
* Eyes nearly invisible, external ears nonexistent.
* Tail 3/4-1 1/5".
* Head and body length: 3-4".

Natural History:
* Habitat: Forests, grasslands, marshes. Builds nests of leaves, grass, and hair beneath logs and rocks, or uses old nests of other animals. Also build tunnels in ground or snow.
* Range: Eastern United States, southeastern Canada.
* Behavior: Active day and night throughout the year. In fact, it is not known to sleep! Feeds on insects, worms, and snails, other invertebrates, and most anything it can subdue.
* Lifespan: 18-20 months, some survive up to 3 years.
* Native.

* Short-tailed shrews actually have two kinds of nests; a resting nest and a mating nest. Both are made of shredded leaves, grass, and plant fibers.

* Shrew hearts beat at a rate of 760 beats per minute. They have low eyesight (due to their being underground so much) but high hearing and touch sensitivities.

* The saliva of the short-tailed shrew is poisonous - it is the only mammal with such an adaptation. The poison can kill a rabbit and cause a burning sensation and severe swelling in humans.

* Shrews have such a high metabolic rate that they must eat almost constantly in order to survive. Hence, shrews caught in "live" traps often die before release, due to starvation. They can live only a few hours without food.

Approved by NR


Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005