By: Andrea Downing The Smoky Shrew
Order and Family • Order: Insectivora • Family: Soricidae
What is a Smoky Shrew? • Size: 116 mm (4.6 in) in length including the 47 mm (1.9 in) tail, and weighs about 6-8 g (0.21-0.28 oz.) • Smoky shrews are smaller than rock and water shrews. They are stockier, longer, with larger ears and feet, and a relatively shorter tail than masked shrews which they resemble in the summer.
Why is it called Smoky Shrew? • The smoky shrew derives its name from its slate-gray or blackish gray winter coat which develops by the end of October. • A spring molt, complete by late June, produces a coat of dull brown. • The tail is always bicolored and grayish brown above; yellowish underneath.
Locations The smoky shrew is in southeastern Canada to northern Georgia where it occupies the high elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. It is also in the northeast U.S.
Habitat • Mixed forests with a well developed leaf mold, deep, loose soil, and sparse ground cover provide optimal habitat, especially where rocks, logs and stumps are present. • Deciduous and coniferous forests, talus, bogs, swamps, grassy fields and stream banks are some of the other communities where they live.
Habitat continued • Smoky shrew do not dig their own burrows. • They adopt the tunnels of other small mammals. • They build globular nests (4-6 in) of plant materials under rocks, within or beneath rotting logs and stumps.
Feedings • Insects such as beetles, butterflies, moths and other insects with four membranous wings. • This forms about 80 percent of the diet
Feedings Continued • Other soil-dwelling invertebrates, e.g., snails, centipedes, spiders, and earthworms, are important foods, too. • Small vertebrates and plant material make up the remainder of the diet.
Activity • Smoky shrews are active at all seasons. • They tunnel through snow and move about on its surface even during temperatures low as -31 degrees F. • Their daily activity patterns are not known.
Reproduction • The breeding season is from early March to late August. • At the onset of breeding, adults' tails enlarge with a constriction forming at the base. The function of this swelling is unknown.
Reproduction Continued • The gestation period is approximately 20 days. • Females bear two, occasionally three litters of 2-8 (average 6) young which begin reproducing the following spring. • Longevity is 14-17 months.
Predators • Hawks • Owls • weasels • foxes
Communication • Smoky shrews are quite vocal • Individuals "twitter" while foraging, and give high-pitched grating noises when alarmed. • Reproductively active adults possess enlarged lateral skin glands which, at least in males, create an odorous substance that probably regulates social encounters.
Resources • http://www.esf.edu/aec/adks/mammals/smoky_shrew.htm • http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=AMABA01180 • http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=smoky+shrew&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1280&bih=851&wrapid=tlif133381733994610&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=BnCAT5i6AuLz0gGv2KSECA