Summary: Shrews are a problem that can plague anyone, and I'm not talking about an ill-tempered woman. The little shrew is a big head-ache to homeowners across North America.
noun [C] OLD-FASHIONED DISAPPROVING
an unpleasant woman who is easily annoyed and who argues a lot
This definition, of course, does not apply to the type of shrew we are speaking of in this article, but try "taming the shrew" and you'll swear you are dealing with an animal that is arguing over its territory and increases its damages the more you annoy it.
Shrews live mostly in wooded areas and fields where they tunnel little homes for themselves. They love to invade your yard, and they have been known to take over basements and sheds. Shrews can make tunnels and nests in an area as large as 1.5 acres. One or two little pests could completely ruin your landscaping. During the winter when there are fewer animals to eat they might even destroy your trees by tunneling into the trunks or roots. Shrews mark their territory by an unpleasant smell, so getting this pest out of your yard, and especially out of your basement or shed, would be a top priority.
Shrews are little mouse-like critters with funny looking elongated snouts, relatively large eyes, and almost unnoticeable ears. Their soft gray bodies are 3-4 inches long and depending on the species, their tails could be as short as an inch or about as long as their body. They are often confused with mice, although they are more similar to moles. There are over 250 species of shrews found around the world.
These solitary animals can eat as much as 3 times their body weight every day, dining mostly on beetles and other insects, but also on animals 3-5 times larger than themselves like birds and small snakes. They can also attack animals at feeders in order to steal the food. They include plants, fruits, and vegetables in their diet, as well. Some species actually prefer eating plants to meat. Your garden or flower bed wouldn't last too long with a shrew feeding there, daily ingesting triple his body weight.
Female shrews have 2 or 3 litters every year and each litter usually has 5-7 pups. These animals can live as long as 3 years. So, what starts out as a small shrew problem can quickly escalate into you hosting your own shrew resort with each shrew claiming its own territory and tunneling furiously through your yard.
Small animal traps can be used successfully to get rid of shrews. In order to find the currently inhabited tunnels, stamp on the ground and flatten out the tunnels. Check every day for a week or so to see which areas have been re-dug. These areas would be the best place to set traps. There are many options for indoor and outdoor traps, so a little research will help you find the solution that will be best for you.
Coyotes and foxes are two common predators of shrews. Their urine can be used to effectively repel shrews. When urine is placed around the yard, like a fox would mark its territory, shrews, as well as other small pesky creatures, can be scared off. Another product called Mole Scram can be used to convince shrews to leave your yard alone. After applying the product over the yard the food they eat becomes tainted. When the shrews eat their favorite food the shrews will be disgusted by the taste of the Mole Scram product that has soaked into the ground. This product is not a poison and will not harm any other animals.
Another method to discourage pesky shrews from taking over your yard is mowing. Keep the grass short and trim bushes. They prefer woods and fields, so if you keep the landscaping looking its best, the shrews will stay in the woods.
Whatever you do, don't try to catch a shrew yourself. They are vicious and aggressive when angered. These feisty little creatures will not be afraid to take a chunk out of your hand with their sharp teeth. Some shrews even have toxins in their saliva.
There are many kinds of tunneling creatures, such as voles and moles, so study your problem carefully to determine what kind of pest has invaded your lawn and garden.