Monday, February 10, 2014

red-toothed shrew ~ 02/10/14 ~ Stevens Creek


Cool.  Well, maybe not as spectacular as the ladybug aggregation, but I like featuring diversity on Nature ID and I don't have very many mammals in my collection.  Eh, I have no problem posting pics of dead animals, because that's often the only way I ever get to see them.  Like with the mole I found, I wonder how I knew this was a shrew without ever having seen one before.  In fact, I found not one but two dead shrews very close to each other on the trail, and we postulated on how they could have died without any external signs of trauma.  It could simply be that they died of old age, since they reportedly only live a little more than a year.  There doesn't seem to be very much known about them. Many times people tend to find their carcasses in discarded beverage containers.  I had a little chuckle noting how similar a dead, muddy shrew looks just like a muddy Douglas-fir cone, whose seeds happen to be a food source for Trowbridge's shrew.  If I had to guess the ID between the 3 spp. reported in the area, I would guess Trowbridge's strictly based on habitat.  I'm pleased I was able to capture the red color in the teeth tips - click first picture for zoom, or check out Seabrooke Leckie's excellent close-up photo of shrew teeth.  Btw, Sorex spp. are also called long-tailed shrews.  There are 13 spp. of shrews in CA, and 40 spp. of shrews in North America.

ps - Thanks to Ken's comment, check out Codger's canned shrew and Ken's own bottled shrew with great teeth photos.

7 comments:

randomtruth said...

Given the 2 different colors, you might have 2 diff species. I think Ornate tend to stay brown all year (although, as you say, it's not necessarily the typ habitat of that species). If it's at all of interest, I wrote a post on shrew skull ID about a year ago.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Huh? 2 colors? 1st and 3rd pic are same 1st shrew, and middle pic was 2nd shrew.

Neil Kelley said...

Long, bicolored tail on the bottom photo seems consistent with Trowbridge's. Middle shrew does look a bit lighter but I wonder if it's a flash/lighting effect? It's hard to say but the pelage in the second shrew looks more or less the same on the sides and underside, where you would expect it to be notably lighter on the belly if it were S. ornatus or S. vagrans. Very hard to tell when they are saturated and dirty though. My dad (in SLO county) is fond of sending me photos of dead animals for ID. He sends photos of dead shrews from time to time, I think they have all been Trowbridge's thus far.

Shrews are the James Dean of the small mammal world: live fast, die young. I guess the "good looking corpse" part of that cliche is debatable. I think it's pretty common for them to up and expire in mid-stride on the trail. They burn their candles at both ends.

randomtruth said...

Your middle one looks kinda brownish to me in the photo, and I thought maybe I hadn't noticed that when we saw them.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I used a flash in the middle pic. Plus that shrew was particularly muddy when I turned it over. Both originally looked dark and clean from the rain when I found them, like in the last picture.

I don't know, Neil. I'd be really nervous making a specific ID even with perfectly dry and non-muddy shrews. Check out Ken's link. Gotta love your dad for sending dead animal pics. I like the James Dean comparison.

Neil Kelley said...

True enough these guys are tough, but thanks to great blogs like yours and Ken's at least we get to share observations and experiences with cool critters even when we can't pin down a positive ID!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thank you, Neil.