American pygmy shrew

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American pygmy shrew[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Soricomorpha
Family: Soricidae
Genus: Sorex
Species: S. hoyi
Binomial name
Sorex hoyi
Baird, 1857
American Pygmy Shrew area.png
American pygmy shrew range

The American pygmy shrew (Sorex hoyi) is a small shrew found in Alaska, Canada and the northern United States down through the Appalachian Mountains. It was first discovered in 1831 by the acclaimed naturalist William Cane in Georgian Bay, Parry Sound.

The American pygmy shrew is the smallest mammal native to North America and is one of the smallest mammals in the world, being just slightly larger than the Etruscan shrew of Eurasia. Its body is about 5 cm (2.0 in) in length including a 2 cm (0.79 in) long tail and it weighs about 2 to 2.5 g (0.071 to 0.088 oz).[3] It is grey-brown or red-brown in colour with lighter underparts. The fur is greyer in winter.

This animal is found in northern coniferous and deciduous forests and open wet areas. It is relatively uncommon.

This animal forages in moist soil and dead leaves. It eats insects, worms and other small invertebrates. To stay alive the pygmy shrew has to eat three times its body weight daily, which means capturing prey every 15 to 30 minutes, day and night; a full hour without food means certain death.[3] Predators of the American pygmy shrew include hawks, owls, snakes and domestic cats.

This animal is active day and night year-round. It mates in early summer. The female has one litter of 5 to 8 young in a burrow under a dead log or stump. It burrows through the snow in the winter.


  1. ^ Hutterer, R. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 289. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Dirrigl Jr., F. & Hammerson, G. (2008). "Sorex hoyi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b [1]