ashen masked shrew (Sorex cinereus cinereus)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Not confirmed.
CHARACTERISTICS: This native shrew is a small grayish-brown rodent,
with a bicolored tail, that weighs approximately 3-6 grams and has an
average length of 51-64 mm(31/2 - 41/2 inches) excluding the tail
which is 31- 40mm (1-2 inches.) They have a long sharply pointed
snout. The breeding season occurs from March-October (September)
with 5-6 young per litter, and more than 1 litter per year. Some
females may reach sexual maturity at ages from 4-5 months. The
gestation period is 18-22 days and the young weigh about 0.01 ounce.
The male is believed to assist in raising the litter.The life expectancy
is no more than two years in the wild. This species is active both day
and night. They may consume more than their own weight each day
eating mostly ground dwelling insects, which they locate using a keen
sense of smell and hearing. The nests are constructed of dry leaves
or grasses, and found in stumps, under logs, or in piles of brush
preferably in an area of moist soil. Soil moisture is a critical limiting
factor in species distribution. This species is mainly preyed upon by
owls, foxes, and weasels.
DISTRIBUTION: This species is found in the western half of Virginia,
all throughout the mountains. It is not picky about what habitat it
prefers as long as the soil is moist. They have been found occupying
bogs, swamps, upland hardwoods, and grasslands.
FOODS: The primary foods consumed include: lepidopterous
(butterfly/moth) larvae, slugs, Coleoptera (beetles), coleopterous
larvae, undentified insects, and spiders.
Crooked Run Valley