Have you ever heard a high-pitched squeaking sound that is quite irritating to the ears around your balcony or basement?
Have you ever perceived a weird unpleasant musky odour in your kitchen?
Have you ever seen a small mouse-like creature possessing a long snout, in or around your home?
If you have experienced all these, then you would agree with me that shrews are not the sort of animals that we would love to keep in our homes.
This article is aimed at educating the public on how to keep shrews away from our places of residence.
WHAT ARE SHREWS?
Shrews are small mouse-like, chiefly nocturnal, mammals of the family Soricidae, possessing long snouts and tiny eyes.
In Nigeria, they are called Nkapi or Nkakwu by the Igbo-speaking people, Eku Asin by the Yorubas, and Ukpobian by the Binis.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SHREWS:
Some distinctive features of shrews are:
They are tiny, most not larger than a mouse. On average, they measure about 3 to 5 inches in length.
They have small eyes, dense brown or gray fur, and an elongated snout.
Generally, shrews have poor vision due to their small eyes.
4. HEARING AND SMELLING ABILITIES:
Shrews possess excellent senses of hearing and smell.
5. APPETITE AND DIET:
Shrews are very active animals, with voracious appetites. Because of their unusually high metabolic rates, they can eat 1/2 to 2 times their body weight daily.
These little mammals primarily feed on insects, but also consume seeds, nuts, worms, small birds, snakes, fish, and mice.
6. TWITTERING AND ECHOLOCATION:
Northern short-tailed shrew
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Some species of shrews, like the northern short-tailed shrew, emit a high-pitched squeaking sound, which is known as twitter. They twitter for echolocation.
In addition to that, shrews use the echoes from their twitters to investigate their surroundings.
7. DEFENSIVE MECHANISM (PUNGENT SECRETION AND VENOM):
Generally, shrews possess a scent gland that secretes a foul-smelling fluid. This pungent secretion is used to defend themselves from predators, as most animals naturally avoid them due to their repulsive odour.
Again, some species of shrews, like the American short-tailed shrew, are venomous. The shrew venom is conducted by grooves in their teeth when they bite a potential threat. Thus, the possession of venom is also a defensive mechanism of some shrew species.
Shrews are usually nocturnal. That is; they are mainly active at night.
WHERE CAN SHREWS BE FOUND?
Shrews can be found almost worldwide.
Except for New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand, shrews are native to the major tropical and temperate landmasses.
WHY SHREWS SHOULD BE KEPT AWAY FROM YOUR HOME.
Though shrews are primarily outdoor, they tend to wreak havoc when they infest homes.
When shrews are in your places of residence, they are capable of:
1. Attacking the family pets.
2. Contaminating food with their faeces and urine.
3. Giving the house, cupboards, and wardrobes, an awful stench.
4. Disturbing the household with their irritating twitters.
5. Scaring the children in the home with their appearance.
6. Damaging and destroying valuable properties.
HOW TO GET RID OF SHREWS.
Most times, shrews that manage to get into the interior of a home or building will find their way out as soon as possible. However, in some cases, the shrews remain indoors as a result of the availability of food sources, and water. In such unfortunate situations, the shrews quickly overrun properties, and it becomes necessary to get rid of them.
Shrews can be gotten rid of by:
1. Making use of traps.
Shrew infestation can be counteracted by the use of a mouse snap trap with an expanded peddle. The trap can be baited with small bits of meat or fish and placed where shrew activity has been noticed.
Alternatively, rat sized glue boards can be used in places where the use of snap traps is prohibited.
2. Rodent-proofing your home.
This is the best way of preventing the problem of shrew infestation in your home. This could be done by filling all holes and crevices that could serve as shrew entry points.
3. Creating an environment that is unwelcoming to shrews.
Regularly mowing your lawn and cutting down bushes around your home will eliminate the choice habitats of shrews and cause them to move to another area.
4. Utilizing the feline solution.
Cats have proven to be competent shrew-catchers, even though they do not feed on shrews due to their repulsive scent. The presence of a cat in your home will reduce the likelihood of shrew infestation in your home and surroundings.
5. Application of predator urine:
Spraying the urine of natural predators of shrews such as coyotes, in your home, will drive away shrews from your surroundings. As shrews possess a good sense of smell, they will perceive the urine of the predator from a distance and avoid coming close to your home.
Commodified coyote urine is available for purchase in certain shops.
PRECAUTIONS TO BE OBSERVED WHEN GETTING RID OF SHREWS:
1. Care should be taken when handling shrews, as they could bite humans when they feel threatened.
2. Keep traps, mowers, sharp objects, and can of predator urine out of the reach of children.
3. Do not attempt to ingest the urine of natural predators of shrews.
4. Regularly take your pest controller (cat) for veterinary care and examination.
By reading this article, you have become knowledgeable of the possibility of keeping shrews away from your places of residence.
I hope you learned something new today. Did you?