long-tailed (=rock) shrew

(Sorex dispar dispar)


The native long-tailed shrew is similar in appearance to the smoky shrew but they are leaner, uniformly slate gray and have a longer tail that is not bicolored. The total length is 124 mm (41/2 to 51/4 inches), with the tail being 4/5 the length of the body. Little is known about the reproduction of this species. The reproductive season is from April to August and litters of 2-5 young are produced. They live in predominantly mountainous regions, and prefer nesting in recesses between boulders and in talus slopes, and are often found near coldwater streams.This shrew shares its habitat with Blarina brevicauda, Sorex cinereus, S. fumeus, S. palustris, S. hoyi, Peromyscus maniculatus, Clethrionomys gapperi, Microtus chrotorrhinus and Napaeozapus insignis. They are as active in daytime as they are at night.


This species is an Appalachian endemic found from North Carolina and Tennessee to Maine. In Virginia they occur in the western part of the state in mountainous habitats. This species is found in cool, moist, shady areas with talus, rocks or cliffs, in hardwood or coniferous forested areas.


Food habits in general are poorly understood. In one study, the diet consisted of insects, centipedes, spiders and plant material.