Shrews are small, mouse-sized mammals that can live almost anywhere in North America. If your part of the world has shrews, they can eat pine seeds and cause damage to fish hatcheries and beehives because they are insectivores that also eat other small animals, seeds and roots. One variety of shrew digs up and eats the roots of ginseng plants. They sometimes attack pets, birds and even chipmunks. Fear of disease from these creatures causes many homeowners to attempt eradication to keep the shrews away from their homes, where they feed on grains and defecate in unwanted places. On the nuisance scale, shrews disturb the peace with their noisy voices and unpleasant smell. But you can deter shrews if you know a few tricks.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Hardware cloth with 1/4-inch mesh
- Coarse steel wool
- Lawnmower or weed trimmer
- Peanut butter
- Rolled oats
- 1-gallon jar
- Bacon grease
Seal up all openings to your home that can provide entry to a shrew. Attach pieces of the hardware cloth over all openings that are large enough to allow a small animal to get inside your home. You can close smaller openings by stuffing steel wool into the opening.
Mow or trim around your barn or other outbuildings that might contain stored grain. By eliminating the shrews' habitat and hiding places, you'll discourage them from taking up residence nearby. A weed whacker would be a handy tool to purchase if you need to keep these areas cleared.
Find the shrews' runways and set mousetraps at right angles to the runways or along walls where you have seen shrews. Mousetraps can be effective against shrews. Shrews seem to like rolled oats and peanut butter, so these are good choices to use as bait in your mousetraps.
Build a pit trap. First find a runway and then dig a hole under it large enough for a 1-gallon jar. Sink the jar into the hole so only its lip is level with the ground. Put a little bacon grease around the top of the jar. Monitor your trap every day: morning is a good time. You might trap other animals as well as shrews, so put a little cotton wool in your trap, which can help to reduce mortality.
Encourage your cat or cats to hunt shrews by praising them when they bring one home. If your cat likes to hunt, chances are she will bring you a shrew from time to time. Cats don't ordinarily eat shrews because they don't smell appealing, but if you start seeing dead shrews around your property, this is a sign not only that they exist in your neighbourhood, but also that your cat is doing a good job of hunting them.
Tips and warnings
- It's humane to release live, trapped shrews into a suitable environment where they can live without bothering humans and dwellings. Such areas should be at least 200 yards from the area where you trapped them.
- Encourage screech owls and barn owls--they are some of the only predators of shrews.
- Be sure to set out multiple traps because this will help to control the shrew population faster and more efficiently than a single trap.
- No repellents, fumigants or poisons are approved for shrew control.
- Do not attempt to shoot shrews; it might be illegal in your state or county.
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