Arctic shrews can be found in the northern US and through most of Canada. Their populations are abundant through most of their range, thus negating the risk of extinction.
|Scientific Name||Sorex arcticus|
|Also known as||Blackback shrew, Saddlebacked shrew, musaraigne arctique (French)|
|Description||Size: 3.94-4.92 in (100-125 mm)
Weight: 0.19-0.48 oz (5.3-13.5 g)
Color: They have tri-colored fur, most visible during winter; dark brown on the dorsal side from the head to the tail, light brown on the sides, and the belly is graying brown; the tail is dark brown dorsally while the ventral side is light brown; they molt twice a year, the winter pelage is brighter and denser, while in summer it is pale and loosely packed
|Distribution||From the Arctic Circle in the north to the Northern United States|
|Habitat||Mostly found near water bodies like streams, marshes, lakes, wetlands, and swamps; can also be seen in tamarack and spruce swamps, boreal forests, mixed conifer swamps, old or dry fields, mixed grasses, alder thickets, forbs, sedge hammocks, willow, and cattail shrubs|
|Sounds & Communication||Mostly through touch, smell, and sounds; they can make and hear high pitched sounds|
|Lifespan||Around 18 months in the wild|
|Diet||Insects and invertebrates; larch sawflies are a major portion of their diet|
|Adaptations||Their fur coloration helps them stay camouflaged and hidden from predators; a common defense mechanism for shrews (including this species) is the secretion of a musky odor from its sides|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Least Concern|
- Arctic shrews lead a solitary lifestyle.
- They are active both during the day and the night. When they rest they lie on the ground either on a side or their ventral surface on the ground, rolling their body up with the head tucked into it.
- They become territorial when they attain adulthood.
Mating & Reproduction
Despite limited information on the mating habits of Arctic shrews, it can be safely inferred that theirs’ is similar to that of other shrew species. Females have 1 or 2 litter each year, each consisting of 4-10 offspring. The gestation period ranges between 13 and 21 days.
The young are nursed until they are around 20-24 days old. They reach sexual maturity after one year.
- They are voracious eaters, having to eat constantly because of their quick metabolism.
- The maritime shrew and the tundra shrew were both considered subspecies of the Arctic shrew, but each has been assigned their individual species since.
- An anthropomorphic Arctic shrew can be seen in the 2016 Walt Disney animated film, Zootopia. Its name is Mr. Big in the movie.