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nothern short-tailed shrew

Fact File

Scientific Name: Blarina brevicauda churchi

Classification: Mammalia, Order Eulipotyphla, Family Soricidae

Identifying Characteristics

The northern short-tailed shrew is a fairly large shrew weighing an average of 19.3 grams and measuring an average total length of 115 mm. The external ear is not apparent and the eyes are minute. The tail is always less than half the length of head and body. The color is grayish-black, sometimes with a silvery or brownish cast. The reproductive season extends from March to November and 3-4 litters of 6-7 young per litter are produced. This species is active day and night and throughout the year. The home range is 0.5-1.0 acre. This species builds its own tunnels in ground or snow. It also uses those of other animals. The nest is built of dry leaves, grass, and hair with a diameter of 6-8 inches beneath logs, stumps, rocks, or debris. It feeds on insects, worms, snails, other invertebrates, and possibly even young mice. Their saliva is poisonous, and is used to paralyze prey. Longevity is 1-2 years.


In Virginia the northern short-tailed shrew is found in the northwestern part of the state. 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 support the highest numbers. They also inhabited fields of sedges and tall grasses. Only dry fields and woods and talus slopes are avoided. They are common in habitats where a thick leaf litter is present and well developed.

Last updated: November 29, 2023

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