southeastern shrew

(Sorex longirostris longirostris)


The native southeastern shrew is similar in appearance and habits to the masked shrew but can be distiniguished by its shorter tail , reddish brown fur, and smaller body size. It weighs in at 0.11-0.14 ounces and has an approximate total length of 2-4 inches. The breeding season is from March-October and 1 to 2 litters is produced with 1-6 young per litter. The nests are composed of leafy material and fine grasses and are often found in rotting logs. This species is active day or night, usually hunting for insects to eat. Their lifespan in the wild is rarely more than a year, but they can live as long as 18 or 19 months. They make a chipping noise that can be heard occasionally, which probably assists in their use of echolocation. They have a population density of 12 individuals per acre and are preyed upon by owls and opossums.


This species occurs throughout the Coastal Plain and Piedmont lowlands in Virginia, except on the Eastern Shore, and it has also been collected west of the Blue Ridge, but its distribution in the Ridge and Valley region is not as widespread. They are associated with disturbed situations: cultivated fields, abandoned fields, thickets of saplings and shrubs, and young forest. A dense ground cover of grass, sedge, herbs or honeysuckle is generally present. The broad range of habitats in which it has been found – planted fields, dry uplands, moist floodplains – suggests that the microhabitat represented by honeysuckle or equally dense ground cover may be more important than the major habitat type.


Important food items include spiders, lepidoptera (butterfly/moth) larvae, slugs and snails, vegetation, coleoptera, earthworms and centipedes.