pygmy shrew (Sorex hoyi winnemana)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Not confirmed.
CHARACTERISTICS: The pygmy shrew's most outstanding characteris-
tic is it's very small size, weighing in at only two grams (less than a dime)
and having an average total length of 4 inches. This makes it the smallest
mammal in North America. It is similar to the masked shrew in coloring
being brown above and gray below and having a tail that is 1/3 of its body
length. Reproduction occurs in July or August, producing 1 litter per year
of 5-8 young. This species inhabits wooded and open areas, wet or dry and
make burrows in the leaf litter and rotting logs. They emit a powerful
musk when excited, which is used in marking territory and attracting
a mate. Pygmy shrews are active at all times and in all seasons, through
most active in the dark hours. They are probably more abundant then
the meager records we have indicate.
DISTRIBUTION: In Virginia the pygmy shrew is found in all but the
southeastern and southcentral counties.They are probably distributed
statewide in Virginia (except possibly the eastern shore), throughout a
wide range of elevations and a variety of habitat types, but trapping of
this extremely small shrew has proved difficult. This species forages in
dead plant material and burrows in leaf mold in both dry and moist wood-
lands and grassy borders. Those trapped in forest situations were under
or beside rotting logs or stumps.
FOODS: The pygmy shrew has been found to eat mainly spiders, insect
larvae, and beetles, as well as caterpillars and many other invertebrates.
Crooked Run Valley