Insectivores

Insectivores are small mammals (shrews and moles) with short, dense fur, five clawed toes on each foot, and small eyes and ears.  They ears are usually hidden beneath the fur, yet in many species hearing is quite acute.  As the name implies, insectivores eat many insects and their larvae, however, they also eat many other invertebrates.  They are land-dwellers, burrowers, and some spend much of their life in water.

Shrews - Family Soricidae

Northern Short-tailed Shrew Blarina brevicauda. Poorly known. Occurs only in northeastern Alabama. Occupies broad variety of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, brushy fencerows, and marshy areas. Breeding begins in late winter and continues through summer, although there may be a lull in early and mid-summer. Gestation 21-22 days, with six to seven young per litter. Diet includes larval and adult insects, snails, slugs, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms, fungi, and plant material. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Southern Short-tailed Shrew Blarina carolinensis. Poorly known. Found statewide except for northeastern region. Little is known about species in Alabama, but may be common in a variety of habitats. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Least Shrew Cryptotis parva. Poorly known. Found statewide in grasslands and other upland areas, weedy fencerows, fields, roadsides, and meadows. Parturition occurs from early spring to mid-autumn. Several litters each averaging four to six young, produced annually. Young from early litters may breed later in same season. Plant and animal materials important in diet, which includes adult and larval insects, earthworms, spiders, centipedes, and snails. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Pygmy Shrew Sorex hoyi. Poorly known. Known only from northeastern Alabama. Occupies a diversity of habitats, but probably prefers mesic sites. Pregnant and lactating females recorded July-August, but little else known about reproductive biology. Probably one litter born annually. Diet primarily invertebrates. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Southeastern Shrew Sorex longirostris. Poorly known. Found statewide, except southern tier of counties. Occupies a variety of habitats from bogs and marshes to upland grassy areas and forests, and even bare hillsides and dry upland hardwoods. May favor moist areas bordering swamps, marshes, lakes, and streams. More than one litter averaging four young may be produced annually. Important foods are spiders, larval insects, centipedes, slugs, snails, earthworms, and plant material. MODERATE CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Moles - Family Talpidae

Eastern Mole Scalopus aquaticus. Poorly known. Found statewide and common in a variety of habitats in both forested and unforested areas. Occupies moist, loose, sandy or loamy soils, and spends most of life underground. Gestation about five weeks, one litter produced annually, and, on average, four young born. Diet includes earthworms, larval and adult insects, other invertebrates, and plant material. Low Conservation Concern.

References Cited:

Mirarchi. Ralph E., ed. 2004. Alabama Wildlife, Volume One.  A Checklist of Vertebrates and Selected Invertebrates: Aquatic Mollusks, Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL. 209 pp.

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