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Nature Notebook – Short-tailed shrew

Most people will never observe a shrew in their life, but if you are lucky you’ll be in for a fun experience.  Shrews are small mammals with dense fur, an elongate snout, and spend a lot of their time underground and under leaf litter in search of food. Sarett naturalists were lucky to spot a northern short-tailed shrew, the most commonly seen shrew in our area, while eating lunch and observing wildife at the bird feeders.

The 5-inch shrew was quickly popping out from an underground tunnel, grabbing something, and speeding backwards back into the tunnel. While the shrew repeated this every few minutes for the next half hour, the speed at which the shrew moved barely allowed you to blink.

We eventually figured out it was grabbing sunflower seeds and racing back underground for presumed safety. The northern-short-tailed shrew is mostly carnivorous eating insects, worms, snails, spiders, centipedes, and slugs, but other small mammals, fungi, seeds, salamanders and snakes make up the rest of its diet.