Photo Credit: F. A. Cervantes Reza and the
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cryptotis parva
DESCRIPTION: The least shrew (cryptotis parva) is a tiny mammal. In fact, the shrew family Soricidae includes some of the smallest members of the animal kingdom. It weighs 1/7 to 1/4 ounce and is 2-1/5 to 2-1/2 inches in length. This shrew has a short tail measuring 1/2 to 3/4 inches. Body color ranges from a dark grayish to reddish brown on its upper parts with a contrasting lighter grayish colored belly. Shrews have long tapering snouts, tiny eyes and small ears concealed in short fine fur.
DISTRIBUTION: The least shrew is found throughout the eastern
HABITAT: The least shrew prefers grassy open lands, along edges of openings, and may be also found in open forests and marsh habitats.
FEEDING HABITS: Shrews are insectivores, meaning they feed on insects and lots of them. For their size, shrews are some of the most voracious and ferocious predators of the animal kingdom, eating their body weight or greater in food daily. The least shrew’s physique is especially designed for hunting and capturing insects. Its body is streamlined with a unique pointed snout equipped with a highly movable and functional nose and very sharp teeth for killing and tearing its prey. The shrew has poor hearing and eyesight, but has movable vibrissae (whiskers) around the nose and mouth which provide a very keen vibratory sense to detect movement, aiding the shrew greatly in locating insects. The least shrew hunts by the senses of touch and smell at the ground surface or just underneath loose soil and leaf litter for unsuspecting prey. It is active at all hours of the day with peak activity at night (nocturnal). Preferred food items are grasshoppers, beetles and crickets; hence, its niche to inhabit grassland habitat types where these insects can be found in abundance.
Burt, William H., and Richard P. Grossenheiden. 1976. A Field Guide to the Mammals. Houghton Mifflin Company,
Author: Rick Claybrook, Supervising Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.