How Big Is a Shrew?

By Todd Bowerman

Shrews are among the smallest mammals on Earth. These mouse-like creatures are mostly nocturnal and spend the majority of their days underground. Shrews always are on the go; their ultra-fast heartbeat causes them to feed almost constantly. Shrews can range in size from small to very small, depending on the specific species of shrew and its age. Speaking generally, shrews range in size from three to six inches.

Tiny Shrews

The Etruscan shrew not only is the smallest of the shrews, but the smallest mammal in the world. Weighing in at just 0.063 ounces and measuring 1.6 inches, Etruscan shrews can sit on your fingertip. Also small is the North American Least shrew, which lands at about 3.25 inches and 0.25 ounces. These shrews are hard to spot in the wild due to their size and underground habits.

Medium Shrews

Still small but not tiny, the common shrew measures around 4.5 inches and weighs 0.25 ounces. These are the animals associated most commonly with the shrew name, and are found mostly in Britain and Eastern Europe. Common shrews subsist primarily on worms and other insects, making them favorable companions for farmers and those attempting to manage a garden.

Bigger Shrews

Finally, a few shrew species grow to be slightly larger than their tiny brethren. The American water shrew can grow up to six inches, while the Pygmy shrew has been seen in sizes as large as five inches. The White-toothed shrew grows up to five inches and the Asian house shrew six. There are over 200 individual species of shrew, each of which has its own specific size records and averages.

Non-Shrews

Elephant shrews, which can grow up to 12 inches, are not actually shrews. The same can be said for the American shrew mole, which. while often considered a small shrew, actually is the smallest species of mole on record. True shrews belong to the family Soricidae – many animals thought of as shrews are not actually members of this scientific family. If it’s bigger than six inches, it’s probably not a true shrew.