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masked shrew (Sorex cinereus fontinalis)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This small native shrew is grayish brown in color and can be distinguished from the other shrews, Blarina and Cryptotis, by it's long tail measuring 1-2 inches in length. The shrew weighs in at 3-6 grams, has a body length of 3 1/2 - 41/2 inches, and has a long, sharply-pointed snout.. The breeding season is from March to October with 2-10 young per litter, and more than 1 litter per year. Some females may reach sexual maturity at ages 4-5 months. The gestation period is 18-22 days. The male may assist in raising the litter. Life expectancy in the wild is 2 years. They may consume more than their own weight each day, eating ground dwelling insects. They use nests constructed of dry leaves or grasses and found in stumps, under logs, or in piles of brush. This species is active both day and night but prefers rainy days. Soil moisture is a critical limiting factor in species distribution. Masked shrews are eaten by hawks, owls, foxes weasels, shrikes, fish and other predators.

Distribution

In Virginia, the masked shrew can be found in the western part of the state. They occur in a variety of different habitats which include bogs, swamps, upland hardwoods, and grasslands. as long as the soil is moist. In the United States their distribution covers most of the northern states including Alaska.

Foods

The primary foods include lepidopterous (butterfly/moth) larvae, slugs, Coleoptera (beetles), Coleoptera larvae, and spiders.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).