Southern Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina carolinensis

Like its slightly larger northern counterpart, the Southern Short-tailed Shrew is a pugnacious and energetic mammal, which is found state-wide.

A very small mammal with a pointed snout, tiny eyes, cylindrical body, concealed ears, and short, slender legs.   The soft fur is uniformly slate gray, but slightly lighter on the belly, feet, around the mouth and under the tail. The tail has fur and is distinctly short.

Length:  3.0 - 4.1 inches
0.7 - 1.1 inches
0.25 - 0.75 ounces

Similar Species:

•The Eastern Mole is much larger and has forelimbs adapted for digging.
Cinereus Shrew and Southeastern Shrew are more brownish in color and have longer tails.
Least Shrew is smaller and dark brown.
•The Northern Short-tailed Shrew is larger, but can often not be separated from the Southern Short-tailed Shrew without detailed analysis of skull and dental formations, and possibly an expert.

Prefers moist, well-drained hardwood forests for easier excavation of their underground tunnels, but also occurs in a variety of other wet and dry habitats such as fields and marshy areas.

They are primarily carnivorous; eats spiders, centipedes, earthworms, insects, and occasionally snakes, birds and rodents.   Some vegetation is eaten as well.

Breeding information:
Mating season begins in late winter and continues through fall, with the peak of breeding activity in the summer.   Females can produce 2 or more litters per year.   Nests composed of shredded grass, roots  and dry leaves are placed underground or under logs or rocks.   After a gestation period of around 21-22 days, females deliver 4-10 (average 5-7) young.   The young grow rapidly and are weaned around 3 weeks.

Status in Tennessee:
Southern Short-tailed Shrews can be abundant in some areas of the state, so there are no conservation concerns for this species.

Fun Facts:
Shrews in the genus Blarina are the only mammals in North America that produce a salivary toxin secreted from a duct at the base of the incisors. The powerful toxin, much like snake venom, is injected into the bite wounds of its prey to kill them.
Southern Short-tailed Shrews, like other shrews, are mostly nocturnal.