Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Shrew, any animal of the Insectivorus family Soricidae, with several genera, very widely distributed, but absent from Australia. In appearance they resemble rats and mice, from which they may be distinguished by the presence oI canine-like teeth and the character of the incisors, and by their long pointed muzzle. In habit they are usually terrestrial, though some are aquatic. Scent-glands are present. The type-genus (Sorex) has two Bntish species, the Common Shrew (S. vulgaris) is about the size of a mouse, with brownish fur above and greyish below. It ranges eastwards through Europe and Asia to North America. It is found in dry places in the open country and in gardens, and feeds on snails, slugs, worms, and insects. These creatures are very pugnacious, and when two meet a fight generally ensues, and the weaker is killed and eaten. In late summer and autumn, probably owing to scanty food-supply, numbers of shrews are found dead, but showing no signs of injury. Moles, weasels, owls, and cats will kill shrews, though puss will rarely eat them. The Lesser Shrew (S. pygmaeus) is smaller, and less common in Britain than the first species. It extends to Ireland, from which country S. vulgaris is absent, as is the Water Shrew (Crossopus fodiens), much larger than the Common Shrew, and having the feet fringed with stiff hairs. It burrows in the banks of rivers and lakes, and feeds on small crustaceans, insects and their larvae, and fish-fry. From Britain it ranges eastward to the Altai Mountams: Aberrant forms of the family are the mole-like tailless shrews from Tibet and Assam, and Tibetan Water-Shrew, with webbed feet and adhesive pads on their under-surface. [MUSK-SHREWS.]