What Is a Shrew?

If you see a shrew in a field or marsh, you might mistake it for a mouse until you spot its long, sharp nose. The shrew is one of the smallest mammals, only 3 to 6 inches long, with some weighing no more than a penny. Shrews are covered with short, dark hair and live for only 16 months.

A shrew must eat all the time because it burns up so much energy fighting and killing for food. This constant need for food makes it a fierce fighter. It will attack mice, birds, and other creatures twice its size, but it feeds mostly on insects and worms. That makes it most welcome by farmers and gardeners. The shrew seeks out these insects and worms by putting its long nose into holes and crevices and searching them for food.

The bite of some shrews is poisonous to other animals. One single drop of its poison can paralyze a mouse, but this small amount of poison is not harmful to humans.

Thunder or other sudden, loud noise can scare a shrew to death!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

3 thoughts on “What Is a Shrew?”

  1. we have just been digging in the garden and found 2 shrews , my daughter is 4 and has them in a open tub with grass and mud and a worm. are they safe for children or do we let them go in the garden?

  2. Facts say they dont hibernate (and we do see them come out of snow tunnels now and then over the winter.) If they cant survive more than a few hours without eating, what are they eating during the winter? Thanks

  3. just pulling a wall down found nest of 5 shrews mother missing put them in straw in washing up bowl mother came back looking for them caught her put her in bowl with them outside all still there this morning harry

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