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7:46 p.m. - 2005-02-10
Bad-Ass Animals, Vol. 1
Our first Bad-Ass Animal is the tiny shrew! Don't laugh; these mammals are mean, voracious and in some cases, poisonous!

In the US, the most common shrew is Soricidae blarina. Although shrews look like mice, they are not rodents, but insectivores. (They are related to moles.) Originally considered the smallest mammal, a recently discovered bat (the Bumblebee Bat) now claims that honor.


Shrews are grayish brown, with lighter colored bellies, and are about 3 to 6 inches long, including the tail. They are distributed all over the world, except for Greenland, some Pacific islands, Australia and Southern South America.

Because of their tiny size, shrews burn off a lot of body heat. Consequently, they are forced to eat up to twice their own weight in food every day! Usually they eat, rest for a few hours, eat, and so on, and are therefore active day and night.

Some shrews are suspected to be venomous. Their bite will slow down and numb their prey, which will then be likely eaten alive! (I saw a shrew bite a mouse's tail on Marty Stouffer's Wild America. After a few minutes, the mouse was just sitting there, all stoned, and then the cameras cut to a shot of the shrew eating the much-larger mouse!)

Shrews eat most creatures they encounter. This includes primarily insects, slugs and snails, small rodents, amphibians, and other shrews! If you enclose two shrews one will kill and devour the other.

Although apparently shrews must approach each other non-violently for mating purposes! Females have several litters of two to ten babies a year. The gestation period is 18 to 27 days.

There is such a thing as a water shrew! These little guys have webbed toes. Like their terrestrial counterparts, water shrews have to eat all the time as well. Therefore they dive to attack water bugs, tadpoles and small fish! The fur of the water shrew is very dense, so they actually stay dry while underwater. This is important as the loss of body heat is what motivates shrews to feed constantly.

(Is this what motivates me to eat constantly?!)

I hope this Critter Corner entry has piqued your interest in this tiny mammal. But if you find a shrew, don't try to handle it, or it will f*cking bite you!


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