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Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew

(Sorex longisrostris fisheri)


The native Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew can be distinguished from the southeastern shrew by its duller brown color, and larger size. It is also the only Sorex found in the swamp. The maximum total length is from 90-105 mm, and the tail vertebrae 39 mm. Little is known about reproduction in S.l. fisheri, though the pattern observed for S.l. longirostris likely applies. They reproduce from March to October and produce two or more litters of 1-6 young each. Their nests are leaf-lined, and are often found under or within decaying logs. They probably forage intermittently throughout the day and night, have the highest levels of activity associated with rainfall and periods of high humidity, and do much of their foraging in leaf litter or in tunnels in the upper layers of the soil. They make a chipping noise which can sometimes be heard by humans, and is probably used in echolocation. They are occasional prey for barred and barn owls and domestic cats, but their bad taste (from musk glands) and small size make it unlikely that they have excessive losses to predation.


The distribution coincides with the historical boundaries of the Great Dismal Swamp of extreme southeastern Virginia and adjacent North Carolina. This species is associated with a heavy ground cover, such as Japanese honeysuckle. Individuals can be found in all successional stages from grassy openings to closed forests, generally in moist to wet areas in or bordering swamps, marshes, or rivers. The Dismal Swamp shrew persists at relatively low densities within mature forests but quickly invades and increases in numbers in disturbed habitats.


In two studies, the common foods were spiders, caterpillars, centipedes and crickets, adult beetles, centipedes, and harvestmen, and only small amounts of vegetation.