Shrews are a small, mouse sized mammal which have long snouts, small eyes and a five clawed toe. It’s head is much more narrow than a rodents and they many times have dark tipped teeth. This is a mineral pigmentation which serves to protect tooth wear. Unlike rodents, shrews do not grow teeth that can stand to wear down. The commonly found house shrew lacks this pigmentation but other traits make it easy to identify.

Related articles:        CHIPMUNKS        GOPHERS        GROUND SQUIRRELS        MOLES        PRAIRIE DOGS        SQUIRRELS        VOLES

Other Information:         PEST ARTICLES


Shrews have cork screw shaped feces and like flying squirrels, will many times choose one or two locations which they readily use over and over as a kind of “bathroom”. Shrews are commonly mistaken for either mice or moles but are entirely different. There are similar qualities between mice and shrews but one could argue that shrews are more closer in relation to a mole.

Like moles, shrews are mostly insectivores and they have a ferocious appetite. This is due to their rapid metabolism which is similar to a moles. However, shrews are commonly mistaken for mice. This happens when shrews move into vacated nest sites that used to house mice. Since they will do the same with vacant mole burrows, shrews are commonly misidentified for both mice and moles. Watch this short video to see just what one looks like close up.

Shrews are found all over the world with over 30 species living in North America alone. They are amongst the worlds smallest mammals and can exist where it is very cold, rainy or arid. Furthermore, it has been hard to determine which species, if any, are regionalized or inclining or declining in population. This is due to the limited amount of research and data available. It is widely known that populations appear to be stable and cyclical. Since shrews can have 2-4 litters a year, they are not as prolific as rodents. However, their average life it longer and quite commonly exceeds two years in the wild. Most litters will have 2-10 young and it will take about one month for a female to birth the litter.



Shrews live primarily on insects. They will readily eat grasshoppers, wasps, crickets, snails and earthworms. However, they will also eat mice, small birds, snakes and slugs. Shrews will also feed on seeds around bird feeders, eggs in bird houses and all kinds of flowers, fruits, vegetables and plant bulbs. This type of feeding is why most people do not like them around the home. Since they have a fast metabolism, shrews will generally feed every few hours and don’t ever rest. Like moles, they can consume their body weight 2 or more times every day! This makes them a menace in and around homes.

Though shrews have a great sense of smell, they have poor vision. Certain species actually use echo location – more commonly used by bats – to navigate the terrain in which they live. Their sense of smell is probably what they use the most to move throughout their territory. Shrews have pungent smelling glands which are used to mark these territories as well as set up social order regarding colonies, courting and reproduction. In fact, this odor is another reason why shrews are not a welcome guest in the home.



Shrews will commonly follow mouse trails looking for a meal. Once inside the home, shrews will prey upon the mice they find and then live where the mice once lived. In a short period of time, their odor will become quite apparent. And even though shrews can navigate during the night, they are not truly nocturnal. Shrews will readily feed during the day and basically will become active as their dietary needs demand going about to feed whenever the local environment will best provide a meal.



Shrews can be a pest to people many ways. As explained above, once inside the home, shrews will leave a strong pungent odor where they are active. It is quite easy to smell this outside in the yard and in the home it can become quite overpowering. This smell is mostly used the same way a skunk uses it; to ward off would be predators. People commonly ask what does a shrew smell like and the best way to describe it is to say it smells like skunk. Basically it’s a strong, pungent smell that comes from their anal glands. Shrews use this smell to mark territory, communicate with other shrews and as a defense mechanism. Much like skunk smell, since it’s so strong many animals will not eat a shrew once this foul smell is detected.



Since Shrews like to feed on small birds and eggs – including both wild birds nesting as well as chicken eggs – they can be quite damaging to local bird populations. Many farmers experience a lot of damage which is hard to imagine something as small as a shrew could have caused. However, their rapid metabolism will cause them to feed more like an animal 3-5 times as large.



Red toothed shrews are poisonous. This poison is used to render their food motionless while they eat their prey alive but if you try to handle a shrew, there is a good chance you’ll get bit. Remember, shrews have sharp piercing teeth which deliver their venom precisely and these teeth have been known to injure people so avoid handling them. Their venom is not fatal but it will cause a sore that will linger for many days.



Hatcheries are amongst their favorite places to feed as are private fish ponds, crayfish farms and just about any small body of water which harbors fish or other marine life. Around the home, shrews will find or create living areas close to bird feeders, pets and gardens. Since they will eat nuts, pet food and just about any type of fruit or vegetable, shrews can find plenty of food supplies around the average home. If the supply of food dwindles, they will forage into homes and start to pilfer pantries and other food storage areas.



If you think you have shrews active in and around the yard and don’t want them getting into your home, there are some things you can do.



Red Fox UrineCoyote UrineFirst, you can try setting out some repellent. Though nothing has proven to be all that effective at keeping shrews entirely away, COYOTE URINE or FOX URINE may be enough of a warning to send them along their way. Both coyote and fox are natural predators of shrews and are drawn to the pungent smell and odor found where shrews are active. Shrews know the distinctive odor of these predators and will tend to avoid areas where they think either may be living or feeding. Make urine placements around your property, about every 10 feet, setting out 1-2 oz at any one location. Coyote and fox use their odor and urine for scenting their territories. Such locations serve as a warning to other local animals and will generally alert small animals of prey which know the scent.

Coyote UrineCoyote Urine:

Red Fox UrineFox Urine:


Capsule GuardsGranule Liquid GuardShrews rely on their acute sense of smell and will usually avoid turf where coyote or fox appear to be present. If you reside in regions that experience a lot of rainfall, consider making your urine placements with LIQUID GUARDS. These protective containers will enable urine to last 1-2 months per application thus making it all the more cost effective to use.

Granule Liquid GuardLiquid Guard:

Capsule GuardsCapsule Guard:



Whole ControlIf you had a lot of mole activity and are now finding shrews taking over the abandoned burrows, apply some WHOLE CONTROL over the turf which has the nesting. This material is generally used for moles and voles but it will work on any burrowing type animal. For shrews, the best way to use it is to spray it out over all the yard which has burrows you think may be occupied. Next, take some time to walk out over the turf and try to step on all the burrows causing them to collapse flat. Any shrews that are nesting in the ground will then try to resurrect the burrows by digging back through them. This action will cause them to come in contact with the soil treated with the Whole Control and it’s bad taste will cause them to relocate. Whole Control is not a poison and won’t hurt any non-target animal. However, it is bad tasting and does a good job of stopping animals which like to burrow or dig in the ground.

Whole ControlWhole Control:



Barn Owl Box HouseScreech Owl HouseAnother natural way to keep shrew populations in check is to help promote the welfare of local owls. These magnificent birds of prey are one of the few which will readily feed on shrews. Due to the shrews pungent odor, many prey animals and birds will ignore them. However, owls don’t seem to mind. Set out either a SCREECH OWL or a BARN OWL house if you have some in your region. Such houses, when properly made and installed, have high occupancy rates. Once you have either species living in your offering, they will undoubtedly give something back to you by feeding on unwanted shrews, mice and rats. Owls are mostly nocturnal and cover a large area so try to make your house placement where it is dark and near the woods. This will insure they are both comfortable and able to find enough food for themselves and any offspring should they reproduce.

Screech Owl HouseScreech Owl Box:

Barn Owl Box HouseBarn Owl House:



Copper Stuff ITLastly, take some time to make sure your home is adequately rodent proof. Shrews, like mice and rats, are good climbers and will access homes from both low and high points. If you have shrew activity around your home, it is only a matter of time before some get inside if you have easy access points. Such locations are usually found where pipes enter the home, poorly sealed windows or doors as well as misfitted vents. Take some time to seal all these areas and use materials that won’t break down easily. COPPER WOOL is a great way to quickly and effectively seal up such holes. It’s easy to work with and won’t rot away like regular steel wool. Its made from copper so it will last a lifetime.

Copper Stuff ITCopper Stuff It:


Furthermore, animals don’t like to gnaw at it so once its installed, there it will stay. Use it for a quick and permanent way to close all entry points to your home. Such gaps and holes are sure to lead to something unwanted getting inside so don’t give them the chance. Inspect your home twice a year to insure no new settlement crack has formed that needs to be sealed. Houses will become vulnerable over time and the best way to prevent any local infestation is most easily accomplished when entry points are kept to a minimum.

Once you have a local infestation, don’t do any closure till the problem is under control and no more activity is present. The job can usually be finished in 1-2 weeks but ultimately will depend on just how many shrews are presently active and how many trapping devices you employ. Remember, the more traps installed, the faster you will be able to get the problem under control. However, we cannot over emphasize how important it is to NEVER seal any holes until all activity has ceased. Only at that point should you do closure. If you do, the shrews will simply chew new holes in other areas. It is far better to leave the current trails and entry points in place. By knowing where they have been active you can then watch and monitor such locations as well as use them for making trap sets. In other words, such locations are good to know and will prove to be helpful in getting any local population under control.



Mouse Trap Expanded TriggerThere are two types of trap styles which work on shrews. You will have to decide which type to use; either a kill trap or a live trap. There are two kill traps which are quite effective when set in the right location. The first is the common Mouse Trap. However, don’t use any which are old or employ the metal trigger design. You will get much better results with the EXPANDED TRIGGER MOUSE TRAP. Place these along any wall, behind appliances or anywhere you are finding evidence of activity. The most important thing to realize when using this type of trap is that you must make a set using a lure or bait that will be readily accepted by the local shrew population.

Mouse Trap Expanded TriggerMouse Traps:



Loganberry PasteSince shrews will feed on just about anything, it really helps when you are able to match the bait used in the trap to what the shrews are already finding in or around your property. There are several choices that could work and if you are not sure which to try, get as many as possible and use them all. This will always get results. If you are finding fruits or vegetables in the garden or kitchen being attacked, use some LOGANBERRY PASTE.

Loganberry PasteLoganberry Lure:


Grub BaitPecan PasteIf you have a lot of nuts on the property from trees or bird feeders, PECAN PASTE would be a better option. Since shrews like insects, the old reliable bait is our GRUB LURE. If you are not sure what they have been eating, then either the Grub Lure or the Pecan Bait should do the trick. Both insects and nuts are amongst any shrews favorite meals so either attractant will get good results.

Pecan PastePecan Paste:

Grub BaitGrub Bait:



When using Expanded Trigger Mouse Traps, there are two things you need to accomplish for successful trapping. First, use as many as possible. Though setting out 6 might seem like a lot, the use of 12 would even be better. The placement of these traps should be where you have either found holes, trails, damaged food in cabinets or pantries, droppings or where shrews have been seen. Which ever lure you end up using, the next key is to use enough of it on the trap. To insure you do, you must coat the entire square trigger of the trap with the lure. Use your finger or cotton swab to smear the chosen lure all around the trigger of the trap making sure to get the bottom side of it covered.

Next, smear some underneath the trigger directly onto the wood of the trap. This will cause the wood to soak up the scent of the lure being used and make it that much more irresistible to any passing shrew. Once baited, make sets along walls and against solid objects. Remember, shrews don’t see well and need to have something solid along any trail or pathway they follow. This could be behind a couch, refrigerator, stove, back side of a cabinet or pantry, along a basement or garage wall, etc.

Lastly, make sure the trigger side of the trap is closest to the wall and not the side of the trap. In other words, make the set with the trigger up against the wall so no matter which side the shrew may approach from, it will encounter the trigger first and not the jaws of the trap. This will enable the trap to do it’s job even if the shrew just walks right in without seeing where it is walking. You won’t get the same results if you have the trap laid sideways along the wall so make sure this set is utilized. Be sure to inspect your traps at least once a day but not more then twice a day as this could get any local animals a little shy.



Raticator PlusThe second type of kill trap that works well for shrews is the RAT ZAPPER. These box like traps are very effective because they have wide open entrances which are comfortable for shrews to enter. Bait is placed at the back of the trap and in order for the shrew to reach the bait, it will have to step on the mid section of the device. Make sure you use one of the lures listed above and place a teaspoonful at the back of the device WITH THE DEVICE TURNED OFF AND THE BATTERIES OUT. This insures you won’t get “stung” by accidentally grounding yourself out.

Raticator PlusRat Zapper Classic:


Next, place a dab or two at the entrance way, around the edges, to help funnel target animals inside. Shrews that enter will meet their demise when they get to the mid section of the trap. It is at this point where a “ground out” pad will cause the trap to complete its circuit which is powered by batteries. When the circuit is complete, there is a small electric charge which will power through whatever causes the ground out. This charge is enough to kill mice, shrews and rats but can’t hurt animals which weigh 10 pounds or more.

Grounded animals will receive enough juice to die quickly and painlessly. Each trap has a light on top for easy monitoring so you will know when it is on and when it has gone off. Shrews which are killed in the trap will remain inside and will easily slide out for fast and easy removal. All you have to do next is turn the unit back off and back on again for reset. Electrocuting Devices are quick, easy and very effective for shrew control.

Trap TubeFor outside use, protect your zapper with a TRAP TUBE. Designed to shield the sensitive electrical components of the zapper from the rain, Trap Tubes come in two colors so they will help camouflage your set.

Trap Tube  Trap Tube:



Live Trap 3x3x10If you prefer not to kill the target shrews, you can live trap out existing populations. About the same size as the Electrocution Device, the LT3310 should be set in all the same places with the same kind of bait placed in the back of it. Place some small dabs at the entrance as well to help get the shrews headed inside. However, this trap won’t kill targeted shrews that enter. Instead, a door will close behind them trapping them inside.

Live Trap 3x3x10LT3310:


Once trapped, you can either destroy or relocate the animal. Be sure to take any you intend on releasing at least one mile from your property to insure they won’t return. If you release them on a wooded lot, there will assuredly be enough food for them to survive. Live trapping is easy and can be done both inside and outside. Use the same locations for making a set as you would if you were using Kill Traps. Such areas should be along walls, in basements, in crawl spaces, behind appliances or along the foundation wall outside. Remember too that the more traps you set out the faster you will be able to round up all the shrews which are active. In other words, trapping with just one trap will get you results but could take several weeks to remove all which are around your home and property. 2-3 traps working at the same time will provide much faster results as well as help to identify good locations for making sets. If you have 2-3 traps working at the same time and only one seems to be catching shrews, be sure to move the others close to the one which is working best. Pathways which are identified as being active should be targeted and sets should focus around them if you want to get fast results.



Once you start trapping out shrews, at some point you will be able to start sealing up holes and doing closure to insure they won’t get back inside. Do this only after you are able to note at least a two week period with no activity in the home. At that point it will be safe to say you have removed all that were currently active and can now safely seal any entry points. Use the Copper Steel Wool described above for small holes along with some caulk and hardware cloth where applicable.

Part of the exclusion process will be to deactivate their scent trails. Like many animals and insects, shrews leave very distinct odor trails where they travel. When you remove (trap out) the current population, the shrew scents on and around your home can remain active for 1-2 years. This odor is a kind of “calling card” which will attract more shrews to the scent trails. Once they arrive and start following the scent, they’ll want to get inside the home and your problem can start all over again.

Additionally, even if you did successfully close up all routes of entry, the lingering scent trail will be quite powerful many times serving as a “pot of gold” to any inquiring shrew. And this pot of gold will be so desirable that the new shrews will do whatever it takes to get inside. One female in heat shrew can attract male shrews for years and they’ll do whatever they can to get inside.

N-100To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to spray the entire perimeter of the home with some N-100. This odor neutralizing enzymal acting product will neutralize the organic scent left by shrews so there will be no clue you’re home has been used before to house shrews. Be sure to spray the entire foundation going up the sides of the home a good 4-6 feet as well as spraying the ground out from the foundation a good 4-6 feet. Expect to use 3-5 gallons of mixed material for this treatment. Though one application will usually do the job, it’s recommended that you do a secondary treatment 1 month after the first.




N-100Odors left inside the home need to be neutralized too. Besides being able to attract more shrews to the structure, shrew odor can be offensive. If you have areas that need disinfection due to the extreme pungent odor left by shrews, spray with the N-100 inside or wash down the area with rag or mop. This material is enzymal in nature and does a great job of breaking up organic odors like that left by dogs, cats and other animals. Just spray it out over the areas where you smell old trails and within a few days the odor scent particles will be broken down and metabolized.



Pump SprayerN-100 can be mopped out effectively too or you can sponge it on. For large areas, use one of our SPRAYERS. Since shrews commonly nest in basements and crawlspaces, these areas should be de-scented if you hope to keep shrews out in the future.

Pump SprayerPump Sprayer:


Shrews are a hardy and persistent pest once they establish themselves on your property. If you have a natural landscape which is rich with nuts, seed, insects and wildlife, chances are high that shrews will like to live there as well. Once they move into the neighborhood, their feeding habits will have an immediate impact on all the local animals. If left unchecked, they will commonly move inside any home. Keep them out by doing extensive closure around the structure sealing off any entrance holes you find around pipes, windows, doorways, etc. Reduce infestations using either kill traps or live traps along with some of the special baits available. Deodorize scent trails and nest sites with Odor Destroyer to insure other shrews won’t find your home quite as easily.


Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).

Email questions here:

Order online and get a 5% discount! We ship fast with 99.9% of all orders shipping within 1 business day!!

Learn more about BUGSPRAY.COM and why it’s never been easier or safer to do your own pest control.

Please show your support for our business by purchasing the items we recommend from the links provided. Remember, this is the only way we can stay around to answer your questions and keep this valuable web site up and running. Thanks for your business!

Comments on SHREW CONTROL Leave a Comment

February 26, 2012

Tory @ 4:39 am #


Thanks for the helpful info. I have had mice between my floors chewing the electric wiring and once caused a small fire. I have been desperate to get rid of them. The other night one of my cats caught 2 baby shrews. I’m glad to hear the mice are probably gone and wouldn’t mind if the shrews stayed, unless they also chewed wires. Do they?

But, now I’ve learned about the odor…. Well, guess I have to get rid of the shrews now. I wondered why my mice friends in my garage and workshop were disappearing too!

March 10, 2012

Ginny @ 9:15 pm #


We have caught 8 shrews down stairs and found the hole by the door where they chewed through but everywhere else is concrete. The down stairs is built into the ground. We have recently found two more and don’t know how they are getting in. Any suggestions?

March 11, 2012
August 28, 2012

cindy @ 2:48 am #



November 14, 2012

Stella @ 1:52 pm #


Am I correct that NO POISON PELLETS will kill shrews? The pellets that kill mice do not work on shrews? Sounds like traps are the best bet?

Thanks. I’m a novice at this.

February 15, 2013

Carolyn @ 9:49 am #


We have seen what we think is a mouse in our home, but its not eating any food .. is it possible that it could be a shrew rather then a mouse. We are packing to move so we are bringing in lots of boxes collected from local business’s. We think thats how they got in. We are seeing evidence of droppings in closets, drawers and cabinets, but its not eating anything at all. How can we identify if the droppings are mouse or shrew droppings?

March 18, 2013

Leo @ 1:17 pm #


I have had shrew and mouse problems in my yard for a while. There was a time I caught 8-10 during the season; other times it might be 1-2. It has been a while since the population is under control. Lately I notice they are back with signs of little holes. My questions is will a mouse trap be the only effective tool? It is hard to place traps on an uneven slope. I have tried several ways, its just not effective. 2nd question, should I use fox urine in the holes after trapping a certain amount of them? Or should I use just it around the house for prevention since population is ongoing for years? When should I apply urine directly into the holes? Any suggestions will be extremely helpful.


October 6, 2016

Martha @ 1:01 pm #

I have Ehrlich coming in and they set traps inside and out and caught what they said by my description sounds like a shrew. The shrew left its remains all over my pans and dishes. What can I use to effectively sanitize the dishes and the shelves (covered with wipable Contact type paper)

Leave a Comment



Recent Comments