Skip to Main Content

ashen masked shrew

(Sorex cinereus cinereus)


This native shrew is a small grayish-brown insectivore, with a bicolored tail, that weighs approximately 3-6 grams and has an average length of 51-64 mm(31/2 – 41/2 inches) excluding the tail which is 31- 40mm (1-2 inches.) They have a long sharply pointed snout. The breeding season occurs from March-October (September) with 5-6 young per litter, and more than 1 litter per year. Some females may reach sexual maturity at ages from 4-5 months. The gestation period is 18-22 days and the young weigh about 0.01 ounce. The male is believed to assist in raising the litter.The life expectancy is no more than two years in the wild. This species is active both day and night. They may consume more than their own weight each day eating mostly ground dwelling insects, which they locate using a keen sense of smell and hearing. The nests are constructed of dry leaves or grasses, and found in stumps, under logs, or in piles of brush preferably in an area of moist soil. Soil moisture is a critical limiting factor in species distribution. This species is mainly preyed upon by owls, foxes, and weasels.


This species is found in the western half of Virginia, all throughout the mountains. It is not picky about what habitat it prefers as long as the soil is moist. They have been found occupying bogs, swamps, upland hardwoods, and grasslands.


The primary foods consumed include: lepidopterous (butterfly/moth) larvae, slugs, Coleoptera (beetles), coleopterous larvae, unidentified insects, and spiders.

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Species Profile Database serves as a repository of information for Virginia’s fish and wildlife species. The database is managed and curated by the Wildlife Information and Environmental Services (WIES) program. Species profile data, distribution information, and photography is generated by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, State and Federal agencies, Collection Permittees, and other trusted partners. This product is not suitable for legal, engineering, or surveying use. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept responsibility for any missing data, inaccuracies, or other errors which may exist. In accordance with the terms of service for this product, you agree to this disclaimer.