Shrews as a Pest Shrew
General Information Controlling
The term shrew is used to describe a woman with a violent, scolding or nagging temperament.
In all actuality, the shrew as a mammal is not easily seen, is very quiet and has a sub-species that is recognized as the world's smallest living mammal.
The shrew is divided into 376 species, several of which are found in North America.
The largest species is the house shrew, which grows up to 15 cm long and is found in Asia.
The smallest is the American Pygmy shrew, which grows to the size of a thumbnail.
Most have also been found to use echolocation like bats and toothed whales and even though it is considered a mammal, three particular species have been found to be venomous, all of which are found in North America.
Shrews are often mistaken as moles and mice. Each front foot of a
shrew has 5 toes; mice have only 4 toes on each front foot. Mice also have
larger eyes than a shrew and lack the elongated face/snout seen on a
shrew. A shrew somewhat looks like a mole but there are differences which
enable you to distinguish between the two. First, moles are usually larger
than shrews. Next, moles have elongated front teeth. Another
difference between moles and shrews is habitat location: moles tunnel and live
underground, shrews thrive above ground.
The Blarina species includes the Northern Short-Tailed
Shrew, the Southern Short-Tailed Shrew and
Elliot's Short-Tailed Shrew.
All three of these have salivary glands that produce a toxic material that is used to subdue prey like salamanders, frogs, snakes, mice, birds and other shrews.
The poison damages the nerves and destroys the blood cells of the prey once caught.
Once bitten, the prey stays alive for three to five days to be used as fresh food.
The poison can last up to several days and causes a great deal of pain. Human bites are rare and are usually received only when handling a shrew.
The shrew's poison is not lethal to humans.
The shrew has a very short lifespan and a high reproductive rate. Many adult females will become pregnant hours after giving birth.
Shrews are apart of the order Soricomorpha which includes four families, three of which are various species of shrews and the fourth being Talipidae or moles.
Shrews and moles are similar creatures, however moles are larger and slower, tunnel underground and eat earthworms, as opposed to the shrew that lives mainly above ground, has a pointed snout and will eat anything they can over power.
In order to maintain its metabolic needs, shrews will eat their approximate weight in food every day.
Shrews as a Pest Controlling
Shrews are a nuisance when living near houses and other dwellings. They often fall into window wells, attack pets, attack birds and chipmunks at feeders, feed on stored food, contaminate stored food with feces and urine and bit humans when improperly handled. They also transmit diseases.
Shrews become a residential pest when they migrate indoors. Once inside a
home, shrews will sometimes live in areas previously occupied by mice; they have
also been known to prey on mice in a home. This may may lead some to
believe that a shrew found indoors could be effective rodent control but nothing
could be further from the truth. The pungent smell of a shrew can be
smelled outdoors, so just imagine how powerful the smell can be indoors!
Other considerations: shrews contaminate food stuff and will defecate
indoors. Similar to flying bats, an indoor shrew will have one or two
areas where it prefers to defecate, as opposed to mice and rats which go
wherever they are.
Different kinds of shrew are destructive to different kind of things depending on the area in which they live. The Vagrant Shrew, found in wooded areas in Western Canada, consumes the seeds of the Douglas fir tree. The Least Shrew enters bee hives and destroys the larvae while the Northern Short-Tailed Shrew damages ginseng roots. The Short-Tailed and Masked Shrew climb trees and damage the eggs in birdís nests and consume the seeds in bird feeders.
The largest of all shrews, the House Shrew, was introduced in Guam and is a host for the rat flea and can carry the plague bacillus.
They are accustomed to living around humans and houses which increases the damage potential. They are considered smelly and noisy and make incessant shrill and clattering sounds.
They often destroy grain products.
Outdoor Shrew Control Indoor
The vast majority of shrews go about their business, rarely encountering
humans or causing harm to our belongings. When shrews do interact with
humans, they can become a pest. Left alone in the outdoors, this tiny
animal eats its weight in insects, grubs, worms, but can sometimes become a
pest. Shrews will sometimes help themselves to food in bird feeders, eat
small birds and can even damage certain flowers and bulbs in gardens. It
is not a huge leap for shrews living in our flower beds to somehow find their
Outdoor Shrew Control
Outdoors, some people have had limited success with repellents made from
castor oil. Castor oil repellents are
manufactured and marketed for repelling unwanted burrowing animals such as
moles, rodents, etc., and can sometimes repel shrews from treated areas.
The presence of owls or cats can be a huge help in reducing shrew
populations. Most predator birds steer clear of shrews, due to their
pungent smell, but owls do not seem to be offended by the odor and will prey on
shrews as they do mice and other small rodents.
Regular mowing will reduce ground cover as well as desirable insect and bug
populations of the shrew.
and live traps can be used outdoors, but must be
done so with care. Kill traps (such as wide-trigger
mouse traps and T-Rex rat and mouse trap)
can kill or injure non-target animals. Birds and small animals must always
be protected from kill traps. If traps can be safely used, a combination
of oats and peanut butter is a popular bait attractant as is bacon grease.
When a shrew decides to live inside a residential building, steps must be
taken to get rid of shrews or you will have to deal with their odor. If
such an indoor pest has already given a building an unpleasant odor, you must
first eliminate the pest before tackling the odor problem.
shrews indoors can be accomplished by using either live traps
or kill traps.
using live traps, check the trap 2 or 3 times daily. If you intend on
relocating the shrew, released the animal a minimum of 200 yards from your home
or garden. A half-mile release point would be better; release animal where
it can find natural food and shelter.
Small traps that are designed for capturing
chipmunks will usually work for shrews; such a trap is large enough to capture a
shrew or mouse but does not have large air holes which would allow them to
escape. Bait the trap with the type of foods it is known to eat in the
home. If this is an unknown, combine peanut butter and oatmeal and place
about 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture in the rear of the trap, behind the
trigger mechanism. In pest control and wildlife operations, this small
trap is generally known as a Chipmunk and Mouse Trap.
traps and electronic traps can be used in shrew control. When using snap
traps, place as many as possible in any area where you think the animal travels
daily in its search for food. Place trap perpendicular (at right angles)
to a wall, preferably behind sofas or heavy appliances or any such area where
Electronic rodent traps will quickly kill rats, mice or shrews that enter the
trap. These traps are safe to use indoors, without harming dogs or
cats. Generally, animals that weigh more than 10 pounds will not be harmed
by an electrocution rodent trap. The most
popular (and most reliable) electronic trap is the Rat
Shrews in Folklore
The Ancient Egyptians considered the shrew as the spirit of darkness.
The shrew is mentioned in folklore as a Zuni beast god providing protection for stored grains from raids by rats and mice.
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