least shrew (Cryptotis parva parva)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Not confirmed.
CHARACTERISTICS: The native least shrew resembles a miniature
short-tailed shrew with a smaller size of 2 3/4 to3 5/8 inches and weighing
4-5 grams. It is cinnamon in color, and has a short tail and may be distin-
guished from all other shrews by these traits. The breeding season is from
March- November during which time, several litters of 2-7 young each are
produced. This species exhibits little aggressive behavior and is very
social, which is very unusual among the shrews. It is active day and
night, and eats insects and other small animals. It may eat more than
its own weight in food each day. It nests under debris or beneath the
surface of the ground, sometimes in beehives. As many as 31 have
been found in 1 nest in the winter. They rely heavily on smell and hearing
to find their food. This species is found with Blarina, Peromyscus,
Oryzomys palustris, Microtus pennsylvanicus, and in the runways of
Synaptomys copperi stonei. This shrew has been known to live almost
two years in captivity but in the wild is heavily preyed upon by owls.
DISTRIBUTION: This species occurs statewide, but is not often seen.
They prefer a habitat of open areas such as fields and meadows with grassy
cover and scattered brush. This species is common in marshes of coastal
Virginia and associated with saltmarsh grass (Distichlis spicata), Spartina
alternifolia, and grasswort (Salicornia europea).
FOODS: The primary foods consumed include butterfly and moth larvae,
earthworms, insects, spiders, and centipedes.
Crooked Run Valley