North American Least Shrew

Cryptotis parva
Chuck Fergus

The least shrew lives in the southeastern and central United States, north and east into New York. It’s found statewide in Pennsylvania. Coloration is cinnamon to brown above, ashy gray below, darker in winter than in summer. Overall length, 2.7 to 3.5 inches; tail, 0.47 to 0.78 inches; weight, 0.14 to 0.2 ounces.

Favored habitats are open, dry situations, such as old pastures or meadows, or along woodland edges. Least shrews are scattered in local colonies throughout suitable habitat. More convivial than most other shrews, which tend to be belligerent toward others of their own species, least shrews may nest in groups of a dozen or more, especially in winter.

Least shrews are active at all hours, but mainly at night. They travel their own or other small mammals’ runways and burrows. They eat insects, earthworms, centipedes, millipedes, snails, mollusks, frogs and carrion, and they drink water freely.


Pennsylvania Game Commission
Bureau of Wildlife Management
Attn: Mammal Atlas Coordinator
2001 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Pennsylvania Game Commission
Bureau of Wildlife Management