The Washington Times-Herald


September 18, 2013

The shrews are poking their long noses out


While little known to the average person, shrews are quite common. If you really want to find one just look where if you were a shrew would be the best place to find insects, worms, other invertebrates or some fungus or plant you would want to consume.

I love to watch a little shrew at work. They will squeak and wiggle their noses while they sniff trying to find something to eat. With their long noses, little eyes, and rapid movements they are so cute, but are a terror to the creatures they seek out to eat.

They are active all year as they must eat or die. Look for them in grassy areas and under old logs, boards or sites with a lot of debris littering the ground.

While some carnivores do catch and consume shrews, most cats and dogs may kill one but seldom eat their kill. This may be due to glands that the shrew has that imparts a rather vile odor to the body of the shrew.

As do bats, it is believed that some shrews use a form of echolocation as a navigational aid.

Both the least shrew and the northern short-tailed shrew are found across most of Indiana. The latter variety is our most common species. The other species have a more limited range. The masked shrew is rather common where found, but its range is spotty and may not be found in some sections of Indiana. The smoky shrew was only discovered in Indiana in 1981. It is apparently only in the hill country of south central Hoosierland.

As with the smoky shrew, the pygmy shrew, our smallest shrew, was not found in Indiana until the 1980s. The first one was discovered in Crawford County and is also only known from the southern hill country.

The southeastern shrew is only known from 25 counties in the southwestern section of our state. No matter where you live in Indiana you have at least one species of shrew near you.

This active little animal lives to eat and it is a shame it has such a short life span as it is indeed one of our most interesting little Hoosier mammals.

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