You Can’t Tame this Shrew

If you have problems with tunneling in your lawn or garden, it may be a mole, a vole (meadow mouse) or it may be a shrew.

Shrews are amazing little animals that are not rodents but belong to the group insectivora as do moles. They are smaller than voles and moles, have short fur, clawed feet, a long pointed snout and very small eyes. They have good hearing. They are active year round and tend to be more active at night. They are good at tunneling but will sometimes use tunnels made by mice or moles.

Shrews are aggressive and ferocious animals and will attack snakes and other animals much larger than themselves. They are carnivores and feed on insects, worms, snails, slugs and other small animals including mice and other shrews. Some species of shrews can inject a toxin, which will paralyze their prey. These animals must eat continuously and can consume more than the equivalent to their own body weight in 24 hrs. Sometimes in the winter when animal material is scarce, they will eat roots, nuts and seeds.

These animals are beneficial as they can consume large numbers of crop pest insects as well as snails and mice. Occasionally they may accidentally enter a home but will not live and breed within the house as do mice. Rodenticides are not effective in controlling shrews since they are insectivores. Trapping with small mousetraps will sometimes work. Traps should be placed near exit holes or along runways and baited with meat. It is not advisable to pick up live shrews as their bite can cause pain that will last for several days.