Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

Northern Short-tailed Shrew

I discovered this mammal because of a foster dog we had. She went outside with me and the next thing I know she’s killed a shrew and bringing it my way.

Shrews look a lot like mice, but they have an elongated snout and much smaller eyes. This is the most common North American mammal and the largest shrew. Shrews in the Blarina genus are unique because they produce poison in their salivary glands, which paralyze their prey. “Brevicauda” means short tail. They excavate underground tunnels and mark their territories with glands on their hips and bellies. This shrew is beneficial to humans as part of the food chain.

They are considered Insectivores but will also eat snails and earthworms. They can eat at least half their weight daily but they also have high metabolism and this large amount of eating is needed to maintain their body heat.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has some great info and photos.