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Shrews

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Elephant shrew

Silent Intruders: Detecting and Managing Shrew Infestations

Shrew at river bank drinking water.

Silent Intruders: Detecting and Managing Shrew Infestations

Introduction

Elephant nose shrew.

In the realm of lesser-known pests, shrews take the spotlight. These elusive dark brown small mammals, commonly mistaken for mice, can become an unwelcome presence in your home. While not as common as other rodents, shrew infestations can still bring about their share of problems. In this article, we’ll delve into the characteristics of shrews, their habits, the potential issues they can cause, and methods for control using live traps and suitable bait options.

Shrew Facts and Characteristics

Shrews are active small mammals belonging to the Soricidae family. They share a resemblance to mice but have a distinct pointed snout, dense velvety fur, small ears, clawed toes, small eyes, and a higher metabolic rate. Despite their size, shrews are incredibly active and require a constant intake of food due to their rapid metabolism. They are carnivorous creatures, feeding primarily on insects, worms, and other small invertebrates.

Diet of Shrews

Unlike rodents that can be herbivores or omnivores, shrews are strict carnivores. Their diet consists mainly of insects, spiders, worms, and other small prey. This unique feeding habit distinguishes them from other mammals and affects their role in the ecosystem. The shrew venom paralyzes its pray when it gets into the wound – but they are not poisonous.

Habitat and Behavior of Shrews

Members of the shrew family are terrestrial mammals and tend to inhabit a variety of environments, including forests, grasslands, and gardens. They are excellent diggers and may create intricate tunnel systems beneath the ground. Shrews are nocturnal animals, which means they are most active during the night. Due to their size and rapid metabolism, shrews need to consume a large portion of their body weight in food each day.

Potential Issues Caused by Shrews

Although shrews may not be as prominent as other pests, their presence can lead to several concerns:

  1. Garden and Lawn Damage: Shrews may dig up lawns and gardens in search of insects and worms, potentially disrupting plant roots.
  2. Structural Damage: In rare cases, shrews might cause minor structural issues by digging under buildings and walkways.
  3. Interference with Ecosystem: Their carnivorous diet affects local insect populations, potentially disrupting the natural balance.

Detecting Shrew Infestations

Detecting shrew populations might require careful observation and attention to detail:

  1. Visible Tunnels: Look for narrow tunnels in your yard or garden, especially near vegetation.
  2. Holes: Small holes in the ground might indicate shrew activity, as they use these openings to access their tunnel systems.
  3. Insect Populations: If you notice a sudden decline in insect numbers in your garden, it could be due to shrew predation.
  4. Digging Marks: Shallow holes and displaced soil can be signs of shrews digging for prey.
  5. Shrew Droppings: Curled and dark in color.

Effective Control: Live Traps and Baits

SFA Sherman folding trap for shrews and mice.

#SFA Folding Sherman Trap for Shrews

 

Non-folding Sherman trap for shrews and mice.

#SNA Folding Sherman Trap for Shrews

 

Other Sherman Traps for Shrews: SFGSNATDGSNG

When dealing with a shrew infestation, using the right methods is essential. Two common approaches for shrew control are live traps and appropriate bait selection:

  1. Live Traps: Utilize live capture traps designed for small rodents to catch shrews humanely. Place these traps in areas with evidence of shrew activity, such as near tunnels or holes. Baits like insects or seeds might attract shrews into the traps.
  2. Baits: Selecting the right bait that shrews eat is crucial. Shrews prefer live insects, so placing live or freshly killed insects in traps can be effective. Alternatively, use a mixture of peanut butter and rolled oats.

Choosing Suitable Bait for Shrews

Picking the right bait enhances the success of your control efforts:

  1. Live Insects: Crickets, mealworms, or other small insects can be used to lure shrews into traps.
  2. Peanut Butter and Oats: This mixture can attract shrews with its scent and texture.
  3. Commercial Shrew Baits: Some pest control stores offer baits designed specifically for shrews.

Preventative Measures for Future Shrew Encounters

After addressing a shrew infestation, take preventive measures to avoid their return:

  1. Yard Maintenance: Keep your yard tidy, eliminating potential hiding spots like tall grass and debris.
  2. Limit Water Sources: Reduce excess moisture, which can attract shrews and their prey.
  3. Protecting Structures: Seal any potential entry points to your home or buildings.

Conclusion

While shrews might not be the most well-known pests, they can still pose issues for your property and the local ecosystem. By recognizing the signs of shrew activity and employing effective control methods like live traps and suitable baits, you can address shrew infestations in a humane and timely manner. Remember, prompt action is vital to minimizing the disruption these silent intruders can cause to your outdoor spaces and ecosystem balance.