Common Name: Northern short-tailed shrew
Scientific Name: Blarina brevicauda
- Adult body length (without tail): 3 to 4 inches
- Adult body weight: 1/2 to 1 ounce
- Gestation period: about 21 days
- Litters per year: 1 to 3
- Litter size: 2 to 10 (usually 3 to 6)
- Breeding season: February through September
- Birthing season: March through October
- Age at which young are weaned: 3 to 4 weeks
- Activity period: Night
- Range: 1/5 to 1/2 acre
- Primary foods: Insects, slugs, earthworms, small animals, seeds, roots
Shrew Pest Status
Shrews that inhabit urbanized areas occasionally encounter and attack birds at feeders and sometimes pets. Shrews seldom interact with humans except for their occasional entry into buildings and residences. When shrews or their feces are found indoors, most people want them removed. They prefer live prey when available but will occasionally feed on and contaminate stored foods, plant roots and seeds. Although often mistaken for mice and meadow voles because of their small size and furry appearance, shrews are not rodents but are insectivores and related to moles. If grasped by a child or careless adult, a shrew will bite. Ohio’s most common structure-invading shrew is the northern short-tailed shrew, Blarina brevicauda.
With the exception of toxic baits, most of the same measures used for controlling mice indoors will give favorable results against shrews.
Mouse- or rat-size snap traps and glue boards placed on floors, along walls in those areas of the building where shrew activity has been observed, will generally yield favorable results. These methods are strategically placed by Varment Guard technicians and, where necessary, sheltered, to protect children and pets from accidental injury.
Sherman-type live-catch box traps (10″ x 3″ x 3″ or similar) capture shrews reasonably well and are occasionally used by Varment Guard technicians. Baited pit-fall traps (e.g., made from clean, empty coffee cans) set into the ground (8 to 10 inches deep) where signs of activity occur (e.g., outdoor runways) will also capture shrews alive. Recommended baits include peanut butter, bacon, hamburger and rolled oats.
Presently, there are no toxic baits that are EPA-registered for controlling shrews.