What Is the Lifespan of a Shrew?
Lifespan in the Wild
- Most shrews die during the summer after they were born giving them a lifespan of about one year. Only the young born during the current summer are likely to survive the winter. Because they are a prey animal for many species including snakes, weasels and hawks among others, many shrews do not survive the first summer of their lives.
Lifespan in Captivity
- According to the website bobpickett.org, the northern short-tailed shrew can live up to 33 months in captivity.
- Shrews typically produce one to three litters of up to 10 young each year. Gestation is about 21 days with the young mature enough to leave the nest after about four weeks. Females of most shrew species become sexually mature and able to reproduce after the first winter starting the life cycle over again the next spring.
- Shrews consume insects such as earthworms, snails and centipedes depending on local availability. Most shrews will consume about half their body weight each day in insects. Because the food passes through their digestive tracts so quickly some species will eat their feces to give the body a second chance to gather nutrition.
- Shrews live in the vegetative trash of dead leaves and branches above ground. This is different than their cousins the mole which tunnel under ground. An exception is the common water shrew which lives on shore lines of streams and lakes. Water shrews hunt insects in the water and can be found swimming and diving after water bugs.