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Dismal Swamp short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda telmalestes)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

The native Dismal Swamp short-tailed shrew is a fairly large shrew with a length of 4.5 to 6 inches and a weight of 0.5 ounces. It has a gray color, short tail, no external ears and the eyes are barely apparent. The fur is soft and velvety. This shrew has litters with a mean size of 4.7 and only a few of these young live to be a year old. This species appears to be solitary and territorial. Home ranges varied from 280-637 square meters, and were smaller as prey density increased. They are active mostly in hours of darkness and make brief foraging trips, totaling about 94 minutes per day. This species probably uses venom to immobilize and cache live insect prey. It is probably more abundant than southern short-tailed shrews (Blarina carolinensis) in hardwood forests and less abundant in other habitat types. This species is beneficial in consuming many harmful insects.

Distribution

This species is found in the Dismal Swamp of Virginia and is a subspecies created by geographic isolation. It is surrounded by populations of Blarina carolinensis. This species shows a preference for dark, damp localities. Old logs, leaf-covered forest floors, and mossy banks provide shelter and food. They are not found far from their habitat in Dismal Swamp.

Foods

The Dismal Swamp short-tailed shrew is known to consume worms, slugs, snails, mice and young ground nesting birds. They may also take vegetable matter such as nuts, bread and oatmeal.

More Information

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