The Long-tailed Shrew, also known as the Rock Shrew for its habitat preference, can be found in the mountains of middle and eastern Tennessee.
Description: A small, long-tailed mammal with a uniformly slate-gray, dense fur coat year round. It has a very long, pointed snout; a slender body; and tiny, black eyes. The long tail, which is slightly darker above than below, is thinly haired and is rather thick and rope-like.
Length: 4.0 - 5.3 inches
Tail: 1.9 - 2.6 inches
Weight: 0.25 ounces
Habitat: Prefers cool and damp rocky slopes in coniferous and deciduous forests, sometimes areas with moss-covered rocks. Long-tailed shrews spend most of their time in the deep crevices between rocks about a foot beneath the surface.
Diet: Primarily eats small invertebrates such as centipedes, beetles, and spiders.
Breeding information: Very little is known due to their subterranean existence among rocks. Breeding occurs between April and August resulting in one or two litters. Females deliver 2-5 young per litter in underground nest sites among rock or boulder crevices.
Status in Tennessee: Long-tailed Shrews are uncommon throughout their range, and Deemed in Need of Management by both TWRA and Tennessee Department or Environment and Conservation.
- Long-tailed Shrews have relatively narrow skulls and incisors that stick out farther than normal (bucktoothed), which are adaptations designed to remove invertebrates from rocky crevices.
- The long tail likely aids it in balancing as it travels along rocks.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Talus slopes of cool, moist forests in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
For more information:
Burian, J. 2002. "Sorex dispar" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 22, 2011
Whitaker, Jr., J. O. 1980. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York.