We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
No, I am not discussing Mrs. Bill Clinton or any other human female.It's just that I have encountered a few shrews this weekend while doing gardening jobs. (Shrubs, grasses, and flowers, not food although I did pick some sweet figs for breakfast from my new fig tree. Perfect breakfast: slice of cold chicken, a tomato, some mouse melons from the garden, and a fresh fig).
Our common shrew is the Northern Long Tailed. I think that is what these guys are that I see but if they are Northern Short-tailed I would not be surprised. I did not try to catch one to measure its tail, and their bites are painful anyway. Shrews are said to taste bad, but I never tried one.
The ones I see like leaf litter and mulch, ground cover like Pachysandra, thick weed patches, and the like. You mainly see a flash of grey fur zooming past your feet. They are almost blind, it is said.
The last shrew I saw was hanging impaled on an old barbed wire fence, deep in the woods where I was squirrel hunting. There was a row of pierced mice, a mole and even a couple of large grasshoppers. The local Shrike had gathered quite a collection.
"I did not try to catch one to measure its tail, and their bites are painful anyway. "
Worse than that: shrews have a venomous bite. The venom is not strong enough to seriously affect humans, but it can at least affect the tissue right around the bite, something like a horsefly bite or a bee sting.
Are shrews, the short tails, about 5 inches long? And flat looking?
All summer as I sat on my porch, this thing, darts
from the brush to under my porch. One day it ran into
the cat, the cat, taken by surprise jumped and the thing
continued under the porch.
Not something I have seen in Long Island before.
From garden guides.com:
Identify the shrew, mole or vole by its size. Shrews are small and mouse-sized, while moles are larger, with bodies about 6½ to 7 inches long (not including the tail). Voles have compact, stocky bodies and are usually 5 to 7 inches long from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.
Study the fur. Shrews have dense fur that's a uniform color, not multicolored like mice. Voles usually have gray or brown fur, with dense under-fur and longer, thicker guard hairs.
Look at the snout. Shrews have long, narrow skulls with distinct, elongated snouts. Moles have a hairless, pointed snout that extends nearly a half-inch beyond their mouths. Voles, on the other hand, don't have elongated snouts.
Identify the shrew, mole or vole by its eyes. Moles have very small eyes, which are concealed by fur. Voles have larger eyes than moles and shrews, but the eyes are still small and partially hidden by fur. Shrews have small eyes that are not concealed by its fur.
Study the feet. Shrews have five clawed toes on each foot. Voles have short legs and small, delicate feet and forefeet with only four toes, like other rodents. Moles have very large, broad forefeet with webbed toes, as well as hindfeet that are small and narrow with slender, sharp claws.
Look at the tail. Shrews have long tails that can be nearly the same length as their bodies, while moles have 1¼-inch-long tails. Voles have stubby tails that are the shortest of the three.