Sunday, March 1, 2015

Short Tailed Shrew In Hyperactive Mode


Northern Short-tailed Shrews have poisonous saliva glands and red front teeth. Their day is organized around highly active periods lasting about 4-5 minutes, followed by rest periods that last, on average, 24 minutes. I found the main tunnel system entrance under a large log on the edge of a ravine next to a small stream. These film clips were collected over about a five minute period of extreme activity that shrews are noted for. They prefer live prey and are notoriously ravenous, but they will stock up bird seed placed near their tunnel entrance. They are one of the few poisonous mammals. Their toxin enables them to kill mice and larger prey and paralyze invertebrates such as snails and store them alive for later eating. The shrews have very limited vision, and rely on a kind of echolocation, a series of ultrasonic "clicks," to make their way around the tunnels and burrows they dig. They nest underground, lining their nests with vegetation and sometimes with fur. They do not hibernate. There are at least 8 species of shrew in the Great Smoky Mountains and it can be hard to ID them, but the size of this one and its unusually short tail make the ID easier.

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Short Tailed Shrew