Photo of the Day #350: Dead Shrew


A dead shrew, photographed at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.

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The picked-over remains of a horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus), the tracks around it being a dead giveaway as to who enjoyed a breakfast of rotting chelicerate. Photographed on May 17, 2008 at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.
Photographed at Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.
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poor leetle critter.

I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of a dead frog I saw while walking last weekend. The poor thing was right in the middle of a trail, all four of his legs completely extended as if its last act alive was one massive jump (that unfortunately somehow resulted in him getting flattened on a walking path).

I guess if you are going to die as a frog, doing so in full jump mode is the way to go.

That certainly does look like a Northern Short-Tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda) to me. It's a relatively common species. I've gotten good chances to see these critters close up because my cat keeps bringing them in. Their eyes are minuscule and they're almost blind; it's said that they hunt by touch and by sound. This is a little surprising because their external ears are also very small, hidden in their fur -- you'd think that a mammal that depends a lot on hearing would have big pinnae. To my mind, these characteristics would have suggested that they spend most of their time underground, but it seems this isn't true; although they do tunnel, they frequently hunt for insects in leaf litter and so forth. (Besides, if they were subterranean, my cat wouldn't catch so many of them; I can't imagine him digging.)

Thanks for the tips Neil & Vasha. I don't know my shrews, so I'm glad you had a clue of at least the general type of shrew it was.