Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Taming Of The Shrew

When people think about farm life, they often think of the native wildlife that will cohabitate on your land: deer, falcons, foxes, that elusive moose. We have seen the big animals, but what has really amazed me is the diversity in the itty bitty animals, from chipmunks, voles, mice, hamsters, and now... shrews.

This little guy showed up in my mare's food bucket this morning and was unable to get out. My first clue that something was amiss was when my SO came inside and called, "Come see this mouse I caught with no eyes!" Strange, I thought, since wild mice usually need eyes to live. So I went to the barn and looked in the bucket and there was this little shrew.

The mare was quite put out but luckily did not smoosh him (or eat him). I left him in the bucket to contemplate his lot in life while I went inside to do some research. Shrews are not rodents, despite their appearance, and are voracious eaters, eating up to 90% of their body weight daily. They eat slugs, insects, and even mice if they can find them. And, unlike mice, they have limited growth in their teeth so they do not chew on wood, electrical wires, saddles or other naughty things. They can carry disease, but not as often as rodents, so no licking of shrews!

So this guy earned his ticket to freedom. I let him go in our woodpile where hopefully he will do a number on the mice and chipmunks that live there. It was very cool to make his acquaintance since I've never seen a shrew in real life. They really have no eyes. Crazy critters.

Disclaimer: This shrew was not really tamed. Just photographed and then released. I don't have time for taming shrews, but it sounds like a fascinating hobby.


Serena said...


B said...

One winter when I lived in New Jersey, I had a shrew run into my snow boot. I was looking at all the little critter paths in the snow, and all of a sudden I felt a little bump on my foot. I looked down and the little thing had knocked himself silly.

I love the little critters. As much of a nuisance the little buggers are, I really miss chipmunks. They were so cute with their little racing stripes. Now I just see the damned squirrels.

Austen said...

Aw, I loved this post. Shrews are awesome ... they are as cute as mice - but not as annoyingly awful for your property!

Are temperatures as balmy up there as they are down here in Ohio? It's beautiful, and I can't wait to start planting my tomatoes!