Sorex hoyi
(Pygmy Shrew)

Order: Insectivora
Family: Soricidae
Family Description: Shrew

This shrew is distributed throughout much of Canada and Alaska, excluding northern tundra zones. South of Canada populations are limited to the northern Rockies, Great Lakes region, and New England. Disjunct populations occur in mid-Rockies and Appalachians.

The Pygmy shrew is the smallest of all mammals, weighing only .07 to .13 of an ounce (2.2 ­ 3.8 grams), or the equivalent of about a dime. Its total length is 3 to 3.5 inches (75 to 87 mm), tail length is 1 to 1.25 inches (25 to 31 mm). It is variable dorsally, from a reddish-brown to gray and is silvery underneath. It has a distinctly bicolored tail.

This very small mammal is found in a variety of habitats. It appears to prefer grassy openings of borealClick word for definition forests, and moist habitats are preferred over dry areas. In Idaho, individuals have been collected in high-elevation spruce-fir forests and, more recently, in cedar-hemlock forests on the Idaho Panhandle. It is also known to occur in riparian habitat along boggy ponds.

Primarily dependent upon invertebrates. In one study, its diet in New Brunswick consisted mainly of insect larvae, beetles, and spiders.

It is active throughout the year. Peak activity occurs at night. In Michigan a study estimated population densities at 0.2 to 2 individuals per 0.4 ha (1 acre). Its burrows are interwoven among roots of old stumps and under fallen logs.

Meager information exists on its life history. It probably breeds from late spring to late summer. Females produce 1 litterClick word for definition, and GestationClick word for definition probably lasts 2 to 3 weeks. litterClick word for definition size varies from 5 to 6 young. Young reach sexual maturity in second summer.

Status: Unprotected nongame species

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Important State References:
Foresman, K.R. 1986. Sorex hoyi in Idaho: a new state record. Murrelet 67:81-82.

Information written by Donald Streubel,© 2000
Map image provided by
Stephen Burton,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.