Least Shrew

By William T. Hathaway

Least Shrew

Since this specimen (although dead) was my first experience with a shrew, I felt constrained to check the local library for some interesting information. Shrews are among the world's smallest mammals. They are different from mice in that they have a long, slender pointed snout, needle-sharp teeth and 5-clawed toes on both forefeet and hindfeet; mice have only four toes on their forefeet. Shrews have squeaky, high-pitched voices. They dash about constantly and are exceedingly nervous. Most have a life span of less than a year. A shrew's energy output surpasses that of any other mammal. Its metabolism demands that it feeds constantly, day and night, resting between meals. The Least Shrew feeds mostly on moth and beetle larvae, spiders, earthworms, and internal organs of large grasshoppers and crickets. They viciously attack any animal that may threaten them. Shrew burrows are often so small as to be mistaken for large earthworm tunnels.

Although rarely seen, they are numerous in our surrounding woodlands.


Notes: