Shrews

We have shrews! I generally don’t hate animals, but I dislike mice. Maybe because it’s hard to love mice when you have to “sac” them for experiments and pull out zeir bones. Our lab isn’t even very mean to mice. All we do is put them to sleep. The mice in some other labs probably all have PTSD. No one likes being mean to their animals, but it is a necessary evil. If you like having insulin for your diabetes and treatments for your cancer, then you really have no say against animal research.

I don’t like mice because I work with them, they eat my food, and they poop all over the place. But shrews are cool! I saw movement in my grocery bag, and this little guy was chirping away, turning my bagels into bite-size pellets. He must have been pretty stoked. When he realized I was there, he left my bagels and just pattered away alongside the wall. It was more of a jog than a scurry. Shrews are not furtive at all. There do not hustle.

Or maybe they’re just slow.

I’m almost positive this one was a Northern Short-tailed Shrew. How can you not like these guys?

They are active all winter, which is hard to believe with all the snow that’s fallen. Well, it’s hard to believe how anything small can survive a winter. Part of me wants to wait until the snow melts to set up the traps, but the poop and the missing food is pretty gross…. Shrews leave poop in wet chunks, not in nicely compacted grains like the mice do. Anyways, shrews also use echolocation. When I picked one up yesterday, the little guy emitted a series of squeaks with a frequency that definitely went beyond our hearing range. That was a little painful.  ALSO, These guys are one of the only toxic mammals found here. Their saliva contains an enzyme that breaks down proteins, which is used to paralyze prey. I didn’t know this when I held one yesterday. Oops.

EDIT:
So I set up traps yesterday even though I think shrews are cool. (They are, when they are outside.) My roommate wants to get a cat instead of setting traps so that the cat can kill and eat the shrews. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed in this apartment. Also, letting your pet eat wild rodents is disgusting and probably not good for its health.

One of the traps grazed the shrew, but didn’t snap him. The poor guy was so disoriented that I could pick him up without any resistance. My roommate strongly insisted that I throw him outside so he could die “naturally”.

Live traps are just as lethal this time of the year, because where else are you going to relocate a small rodent when there’s 4 feet of snow on the ground? Maybe she just really wants a cat.

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