Though they look like long-nosed mice, shrews are not actually rodents. More closely related to moles, shrews are hyperactive animals that forage for their favorite foods, including insects, seeds, and other vegetation. Like moles, shrews have poor vision but exceptional hearing and senses of smell. Fiercely territorial and solitary animals, some shrews actually possess venomous bites they use to neutralize both predator and prey.
The coat of the shrew is dense and velvety to the touch. Shrews have small eyes, ears covered almost entirely by fur, long snouts, and five toes on every foot. As one of the smallest mammals, some species of shrew only grow a couple inches in length and weigh around 2 to 3 grams.
Shrews are found throughout the United States in various habitats. Nesting under logs and rocks, shrews can build tunnel systems through nearly any substance, including snow, dirt, and leaves. The insectivore lives in marshes, open fields, woodlands, and anywhere vegetation provides ample coverage.
Are shrews known to enter homes or yards?
It is possible for shrews to end up in garages, barns, cellars, and sheds, especially once the weather begins to cool. Both flower and vegetable gardens become susceptible to shrew activity once populations thrive in surrounding areas, as the animal digs and tunnels while in search for its next meal. Shrews also take up residence in the ruts between fence posts, as the area usually provides excellent cover. Thankfully, they are usually not abundant enough to become perpetual pests.
Do shrews harm people or property?
Since some shrew bites are venomous, people should never attempt to handle the tiny mammals. Though not lethal, shrew bites can trigger minor allergic reactions. Since the animal is generally solitary, shrew damage to gardens, lawns, and fields typically remains minimal.
Control and Safety
As is the case for other tunneling animals, shrew populations can be kept out of homes and yards through methods of exclusion. Burying wire in the ground to keep shrews from tunneling into gardens can be effective, as is putting up fencing since most species of shrews are not good climbers.
Trapping and Removal
Cats and other natural predators may help control populations of the tiny mammal by killing shrews. However, they typically do not eat shrews, as they have a musky odor. The only way to ensure shrews are removed properly is to call a trained wildlife specialist when they enter homes or manmade structures. Critter Control professionals possess the knowledge, skills, and training to trap and remove shrews both humanely and effectively.