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Range Map

North American Least Shrew

North American Least Shrew
Cryptotis parva

This small shrew can be found anywhere in Tennessee.

: A very small mammal with long, pointed snout; tiny, black eyes; concealed ears; cylindrical body; and a very short tail. The soft, short fur is dark brown to brownish-gray and the belly is gray. Tail color matches the body color with the underside being gray.
Length: 2.7 - 3.3 inches
Tail: 0.5 - 0.8 inches
Weight: 0.13 - 0.25 ounces

Similar Species:

: Occurs primarily in open grassy fields, brushy areas, weedy fields, and fencerows. Occasionally found in marshy areas or timbered habitat.

Mostly carnivorous; eats insects and their larvae, snails, spiders, earthworms, and occasionally carcasses of small animals.

Breeding information:
The mating season occurs from February through November. Pregnancy lasts 21-23 days resulting in 3-7 (average 4-5) young per litter. Females can have several litters per year. Young are born with eyes and ears closed and no fur. By 3 weeks old their incisors are well developed and they are ready to be weaned.

Status in Tennessee: Their range is widespread, so there are no conservation concerns for the North American Least Shrew.

Fun Facts
  • North American Least Shrews are very social and appear to tolerate each other better compared to other shrews. Although uncommon, up to 30 individuals have been found occupying the same nest.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Open, grassy fields.

For more information:

Schwartz, C.W. and E.R. Schwartz. 2001. The Wild Mammals of Missouri, 2nd Edition. University of Missouri Press and Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO.