masked shrew (Sorex cinereus fontinalis)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Not confirmed.
CHARACTERISTICS: This small native shrew is grayish brown in color
and can be distinguished from the other shrews, Blarina and Cryptotis, by
it's long tail measuring 1-2 inches in length. The shrew weighs in at 3-6
grams, has a body length of 3 1/2 - 41/2 inches, and has a long, sharply-
pointed snout.. The breeding season is from March to October with 2-10
young per litter, and more than 1 litter per year. Some females may reach
sexual maturity at ages 4-5 months. The gestation period is 18-22 days.
The male may assist in raising the litter. Life expectancy in the wild is 2
years. They may consume more than their own weight each day, eating
ground dwelling insects. They use nests constructed of dry leaves or
grasses and found in stumps, under logs, or in piles of brush. This species
is active both day and night but prefers rainy days. Soil moisture is a
critical limiting factor in species distribution. Masked shrews are eaten by
hawks, owls, foxes weasels, shrikes, fish and other predators.
DISTRIBUTION: In Virginia, the masked shrew can be found in the
western part of the state. They occur in a variety of different habitats
which include bogs, swamps, upland hardwoods, and grasslands. as
long as the soil is moist. In the United States their distribution covers
most of the northern states including Alaska.
FOODS: The primary foods include lepidopterous (butterfly/moth)
larvae, slugs, Coleoptera (beetles), Coleoptera larvae, and spiders.
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