Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Taming of the Shrew

The tiny shrew is a wonder. At about 2 1/2" long(in body) the Trowbridge Shrew is at the lower limit for how small a warm blooded mammal can be. To get an idea of size, the tip of this guy's nose is the size of a pin head, his foot is the size of a grain of uncooked barley. It sniffs around in the duff with it's array of whiskers, looking for any meaty morsel(earthworms, bugs), fir seeds and selected fungi. The Trowbridge Shrew is "stronger" and can burrow into the soil--look at those feet and think about how small those bones are!!

Shrews have an incredibly high caloric need. They eat their body weight each day, and can't go more than 3 hours without food. They need the calories to keep themselves warm because they are so small. Shrews do not hibernate or sleep--they carry on through the winter of their one-year lifespan, scuttering through the forest floor, even under the snow.

A shrew's heart beats up to 1,200 times per minute(and it's the size of a sunflower seed maybe?). All that hard work makes it easy for the shrew to be literally scared to death. Poor hearing and eyesight make it hard for them to evade predators, but they do have one defense-- they taste bad. However, owls, jays, and trout don't seem to mind.

So you're probably asking how I got this little guy to sit for his picture. I found him expired on the path. It's mind boggling how tiny he is, and like birds, he is mostly fluffy fur, his little body is maybe the size of a small peanut(in the shell).

1 comment:

Trailhead said...

Wow. This is one of those "so ugly it's cute" creatures. I'd love to see one in action.