Are Shrews Poisonous or Venomous?

Image of a Shrew

What is a Shrew?

Shrews are mouse-sized animals distinguished from rodents by their long, pointed snouts. They eat mostly insects and live throughout the United States. Since they burn energy quickly, the pests need to eat often. Shrew venom gives these tiny animals an edge over their prey.

Are Shrews Venomous Animals?

Many people aren't clear about the difference between poison and venom. This often leads them to wonder whether shrews are poisonous or venomous. In general, venomous pests inject, bite, or sting to deliver venom, while poisonous creatures transfer toxins passively when touched or ingested.

Unlike other mammals, some species of shrews have toxic saliva used for hunting. This shrew venom gets into wounds as the animals bite, paralyzing the prey. As a result, shrews are venomous, not poisonous.

Are Shrews Dangerous to People?

While it may be fatal for insects and small animals, shrew venom is not dangerous to humans. Bites may result in some pain and swelling, but are not usually serious. As with any type of wildlife bite, seek medical attention to avoid possible infection or disease.

Problems for Homeowners

As a form of protection, shrews sometimes emit an odor to ward off predators. This can be unpleasant for residents with infested yards. In rare cases, a venomous shrew may attack a human or pet in self-defense. The pests can also get into stored food in garages, barns, or homes.

Since shrews are venomous, homeowners should not attempt removal on their own. If prevention fails, contact the specialists at Critter Control to safely manage shrews in yards.