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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Desert Shrew
Order Insectivora : Family Soricidae : Notiosorex crawfordi (Coues)

Desert Shrew (Notiosorex crawfordi).  Photo by John L. Tveten.Description. A small shrew with conspicuous ears and long tail (more than twice as long as hind foot); upperparts lead gray; underparts paler. Dental formula: I 3/2, C 1/0, Pm 1/1, M 3/3 X 2 = 28. External measurements average: total length, 81 mm; tail, 27 mm; hind foot, 10 mm.

Species distribution mapDistribution in Texas. Western two-thirds of state, including portions of north-central Texas and southern Texas.

Habits. Desert shrews are found in the more arid, western and southern parts of the state but do not appear to be restricted to any particular habitat. Specimens have been taken in cattail marshes, in beehives, under piles of cornstalks, among yuccas, in wood rat nests, and beneath piles of brush and refuse. In such places they construct their tiny nests of grasses and other dried vegetation. Unlike other shrews from Texas, desert shrews do not appear to construct or make use of underground burrows.

This shrew is thought to feed largely on both larval and adult insects; captive specimens have eaten a wide variety of food including mealworms, cutworms, crickets, cockroaches, houseflies, grasshoppers, moths, beetles, earwigs, centipedes, the carcasses of skinned small mammals and birds, and dead lizards. Conversely, captives refused live rodents, salamanders, scorpions, and earthworms. In captivity, desert shrews eat about 75% of their body weight each day and can subsist without drinking water.

Little is known about the breeding habits of this shrew. The breeding season lasts from spring into the fall months, perhaps occasionally as late as November. Litter size averages three to five young, but it is not known if more than one litter is produced each season.

The lifespan is not known. Predators include great horned owls and barn owls.

Photo credit: John L. Tveten.