Shrew, Or Shrew Mouse, the common name of the insectivorous mammals of the family so-ricidce, characterized by a general rat-like or mouse-like appearance, elongated and pointed muzzle, and soft fur. The distinct auricle of the ears, and the normal size of the anterior feet, not usually employed in digging, distinguish them from the moles. The skull is long and narrow, compressed at the orbits, malar bone and zygomatic arch wanting; the ribs are 12 to 14 pairs, 6 to 8 vertebras without ribs, 3 to 5 sacral, 14 to 28 caudal; tibia and fibula united, clavicles thin, and pubic arch closed; stomach simple; caecum in some absent, in others very large; on the sides of the body, nearest the anterior limbs, and in some at the base of the tail, is a series of glands which secrete a strong musky fluid. The teeth vary from 28 to 32; there are two very large incisors in each jaw, nearly horizontal in the lower and much curved in the upper: canines absent; premolars posterior molars are many-pointed, and the anterior ones conical; the precise homologies of the cheek teeth have been the subject of much controversy.

The snout ends in a naked muffle with the nostrils pierced on the sides; eyes very small, ears distinct, and feet nearly plantigrade and usually naked beneath; mammae six to ten; feet five-toed, each with a claw. Their food consists of insects, worms, and mol-lusks, though they sometimes destroy small vertebrates and devour each other; they are nocturnal, more or less aquatic, do not hibernate, and the young are born blind and naked; most of the species live on the surface of the ground, and a few in burrows. They are spread over the northern hemisphere, sometimes going very far north, and the smaller species enduring severe cold. The subfamily soricince is the only one represented in North America; other subfamilies are found in south and central Africa, Asia, the East Indies, and Europe; none as yet have been detected in South America. - Of the American genera, neosorex (Baird) has rather short ears, partly furred on both surfaces; teeth 32; tail longer than body and head, and hairs of equal length except a tuft at the tip; feet very large, with a fringe of ciliated hairs; muzzle very slender.

In the genus sorex (Linn.), which contains a great part of the species of the new and old worlds, the ears are large and valvular, the tail about as long as the body, and the feet moderate and not fringed; it is divided into two sections, one with 32 and the other with 30 teeth, most of the American species belonging in the former. Prof. Baird describes 12 species in vol. viii. of the Pacific railroad reports, varying in length from 3 to 4½ in., of which the tail is about one half, ranging from blackish and brownish to grayish above and lighter to whitish below. The 8. personatus (Geoffr.) is the least of the American shrews, and among the smallest of the quadrupeds of this country, being not quite 3 in. long; it belongs in the S. Atlantic states. Most of the species belong on the Pacific coast or in the N. W. territories.

Shrew Or Shrew Mouse 15001Mole Shrew (Blarina talpoides).

Mole Shrew (Blarina talpoides).

In the genus blarina (Gray) the body is stout; the tail shorter than the head, with short bristly hairs and small brush at tip; the hands large in proportion to the feet, and the soles usually hairy at the heels; skull short and broad; ears very short, with the external surface densely, furred. This genus, peculiar to America, is also divided into sections, one with 32, the other with 30 teeth. The mole shrew (B. tal-poides, Gray), the largest of the American shrews, 4½ in. long, is found from Nova Scotia to Lake Superior, and south to Georgia; it is dark ashy gray above and paler below, with whitish feet. Several other species are described by Baird, of which two are in Mexico and Texas. In the old world, among the species of sorex, subdivided into several by Wag-ler, and called musaraignes by the French, is the common European shrew (8. araneus, Linn.), 4½ to 5 in. long, of which the tail is 1½ in; the color is reddish mouse above and grayish below; it is found in dry places very generally over Europe. - The shrews appear during the miocene age in small numbers, and continue through the diluvial epoch to the present time, without material change.

Common European Shrew (Sorex araneus).

Common European Shrew (Sorex araneus).