southern short-tailed shrew

(Blarina carilonensis carilonensis)


The southern short-tailed shrew is very similar in appearance to its northern counterpart except that it is smaller measuring about 3-5 inches in length and weighing about 8 grams. 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. This species will reproduce from March to November having 3-4 litters per year with an average of 6-7 young per litter. This species is active day and night and throughout the year. The home range is 0.5-1.0 acre. Populations are as high as 25 per acre, usually fewer. It builds its own tunnels in the ground or snow and also uses those of other animals. Runways are used for food storage. The nest is built of dry leaves, grass, and hair, at a diameter from 6-8 inches beneath logs, stumps, rocks, or debris. The saliva of the short-tailed shrew is toxic, paralyzing the prey. Each day they eat 50-150% of their body weight in food They use a strong secretion from a gland on the abdomen to mark their runways and territories and also for sex recognition during the breeding season. .This shrew’s life span is 1-2 years.


In Virginia, the southern short-tailed shrew is found in the southeastern part of the state, with Virginia being the northernmost part of the east coast range of this species. Damp mature deciduous-coniferous woods consistently support the highest population numbers. They also inhabit fields of sedge and tall grass. Only dry fields and woods and talus slopes are avoided.


This species feeds on insects, worms, snails, other invertebrates, and possibly young mice. In the winter they feed on seeds, nuts, fruits and fungi. Snails are often cached in burrows in the summer where cool temperatures render them immobile.