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Kirtland’s short-tailed shrew

Fact File

Scientific Name: Blarina brevicauda kirtlandi

Classification: Mammalia, Order Eulipotyphla, Family Soricidae

Identifying Characteristics

The total length of this shrew is 95-134 mm, with a weight from 11-22 grams. The external ear is not apparent, and the eyes are minute. The tail is always less than half the length of the head and body. The color is grayish-black, sometimes with a silvery or brownish cast. . They are active day and night and throughout the year. The home range is from 0.5-1.0 acre. Populations can be as high as 25/acre, usually fewer. This species builds its own tunnels in the ground or snow, but it also uses those of other animals. The nest is built of dry leaves, grass and hair with a diameter from 6-8 inches. The nests are beneath logs, stumps, rocks, or debris. The reproductive season is from March to November with 3-4 litters of 6-7 young born per year. These animals always seem nervous, hyperactive and aggressive. A strong secretion from a gland in the abdomen is used to mark their territory and for sex recognition. This species feeds on insects, worms, snails, other invertebrates, and possibly even young mice. The saliva is toxic to prey. The longevity of this species is from 1-2 years. This species is prey for many snakes, birds and carnivorous mammals.


This species is found in a wider range of habitats than any other small mammal, and is usually the most abundant. Damp mature deciduous-coniferous woods consistently supported the highest numbers. They also inhabited fields of sedges and tall grasses. Only dry fields and woods and talus slopes are avoided.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

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