So, you’ve got a rodent problem- specifically, shrews. And you want to get rid of shrews. Fast.
Shrews are almost like rats or mice in appearance.
Depending on where you live in the US, these small mammals can really destroy your ecosystem in your garden.
They’re often confused with mice because they don’t have the long tails that rats do, and they’re often found in your garden eating up slugs, snails and other bugs.
While they eat sup some bugs, they’ll also cause some serious damage to your property- especially if they find a way that reaches the interior of your property. In other words- get into your home.
Definitely a problem.
This guide will teach you how to get rid of shrews from your house or your garden.
With patience and dedication, you can rid them from your properly for good. Just be patient and follow these techniques carefully.
Let’s get rid of your shrew problem!
Last updated: 1/21/21. This guide has been updated for accuracy.
What’s a shrew?
Shrews are often mistaken for mice or rats because they look extremely similar.
They Are about 3-4” long and they have a small, 4” tail that’s about the size of their body length. They weigh less than 1.2 ounces.
Their fur is grey with a small head and pointed snout. They have a hairless tail and feet with small black eyes. Their body is oblong.
They’re solitary creatures so they don’t travel together in packs. Some are nocturnal (come out at night) and others are diurnal (come out during the day).
Some prefer colder climates and may enter torpor during the winter. They reproduce 1-3 times per year during the summer. A female usher gives birth to a litter of 2-10 young after a 3 week gestation period.
Shrews can echolocate and the only known terrestrial mammals to do so. Some bats and aquatic animals use echolocation to find prey. Shrews use this same feature to be aware of their territory.
You can read more about them here.
Where do shrews live?
Shrews live outdoors in the wild by nature and are found all over the world.
They’re mainly found in abandoned burrows, but also in trees, gardens, and of course, homes.
Because you’re reading this, they’re probably in your backyard or home.
Are shrews harmful to humans?
Shrews have always had a reputation for being dangerous to humans.
Shrews such as the Short-tailed Shrew have some venom in their bite, which will paralyze their prey.
This is the key to how such a small mammal can take down a target much bigger than themselves.
If a shrew were to bite a human, this would cause pain and swelling.
While it’s not often that humans will need urgent care from shrew bites, it’s always best to treat a bite with extreme caution as they may have fed on other prey and have the possibility of transferring disease.
When they consume these prey, they have the possibility of contracting or carrying specific bacteria, parasites, or diseases that may be transmitted to humans through bites.
Shrew vs. vole vs. mole
Shrews and voles are often confused. Knowing which rodent you’re dealing with will be important so you can get the right kind of strategy to kill them.
Here are some key differences between shrews, moles, and voles:
- Small front feet
- Small eyes
- Snout that’s pointed
- Shorter pointed snout than shrews
- Large feet
- Small eyes and ears that aren’t visible
- Not often found in homes
- Eats bugs
- Rounded nose with no snout
- Rounded ears
- Stays out in nature
- Small front feet
- Eats plants
- Doesn’t usually get into buildings
Are shrews aggressive?
Yes. Do NOT handle them.
Shrews are extremely aggressive by nature. Although they don’t have any considerable impact on humans in regards to the ecosystem and companionship, they will defend and attack humans.
Naturally, they’ll occasionally attack birds, pets, and even chipmunks. These other species can be many times their size, and humans are no exception.
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Sometimes they may find their way into your home and feed on your food. They can gain entry by squeezing their way through cracks, crevices, or even your window or doors.
Sometimes they fall into your home accidentally through fireplaces or forget how to exit. Once they get in, they’ll eat your food, furniture, and other various goods they can find.
If you suspect that you have shrews in your home, you need to dispose of all unsecured food, as they will contaminate them with their feces and urine.
You’ll also need to scout your house for any feces they left behind and clean this up, as they’ll naturally bring bacteria (obviously).
The same goes for urine. You’ll want to spot-check your entire house for anything left behind, or else risk getting sick. Sure, it’s a hassle. But it’s the first step if you notice shrew activity within your house.
If you happen to find the shrew in your home, don’t try to grab it. It’ll retaliate and bite back with the possibility of transferring disease. The only thing you should do is watch it from afar to note where it’s going and where it’s been.
Call an animal control professional immediately. And watch the activity until they arrive.
If possible, trap the shrew into an isolated room. Only do this if you know you won’t get bitten, such as shutting a door and blocking the gap below.
Shrews and Minnesota
Minnesota is a popular state with shrews, as they’re habituating over most the state other than the southern portion of the states.
Shrews are a common pest in the state and seem to be one of the most popular mammals there.
- The pygmy shrew is the super light and one of the most common shrews, which doesn’t weigh more than an ounce.
- The short-tail shrew is the largest shrew, which weighs about ¾ ounce.
- The masked shrew is found across the northern US and Canada and is the most common member of the group nationwide.
- There’s also the arctic shrew, with off-white coloration.
- The northern water shrew is large and seems to run over water. It’s also an excellent diver.
Do shrews climb walls?
Shrews can climb trees and such with agile movement, but they don’t ever really climb vertically up a wall unless it has some kind of grip for them to claw their way up the wall with.
So if you have a vertical wall that you don’t want them to climb over, they probably won’t be able to. They’re relatively lightweight compared to other similar garden annoyances, like moles, chipmunks, and coyotes.
However, you should check around the wall, such as dirt where they can easily dig and go through below the fence and still make their way through.
If you’re scared about them climbing up the side of your house, this is very unlikely.
Where do shrews live?
Shrews live all across the world except Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, and other areas where it’s just way too cold because there is likely no prey for them to eat, so they don’t exist there.
They live best where there are plenty of bugs, pests, and other prey for them to eat.
This obviously spans across a very large biome- everything from tropical regions to forested to even urban and rural areas, and some of these places also have human activity, where they can live habitually.
And that’s when they may pose a problem.
Shrews like areas with a lot of ground cover so they can run and hide from predators. Some shrews live exclusively in burrows and tunnels, whereas others live in tree cavities, gardens, and of course, homes.
Although they prefer a wide variety of habitats, they don’t have one that they’re limited to.
Shrews are fast, furious, and adaptable to many different habitats, which is why it’s very important that if you notice shrew activity in your backyard, it’s only a matter of time before they get into your home, basement, or attic.
Shrews don’t hibernate, but they do get less active during the winter.
They’re most active during the other seasons where they’re out hunting and foraging for food.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t find them around your house during the colder seasons. They can enter torpor if needed.
Do shrews live in groups?
Shrews are actually very territories and won’t enter each other’s’ territory other than for breeding purposes.
A territory belonging to a shrew is actually very small and up to 80 shrews can live together within 1 acre of land.
They’re not social creatures unlike mice and rats, who will actually help each other out when needed for resources or danger.
Shares will live actually live in isolation and find food alone. They’re territorial against their own kind and other animals and have been known to be cannibals.
Therefore shrews don’t live in a group. If you see behavior or traces of pests that seem like they’re in a group, they may be mice or rats rather than shrews.
Do shrews carry rabies?
Shrews are known carriers for rabies, however, they’re low-risk.
If you get bitten by a shrew, you’ll need to seek medical attention urgently. They’re put into the same order as squirrels, gophers, mice, rabbits, rats, armadillos, moles, and opossums.
Most of these animals won’t give you rabies even if you’re bitten.
Fun fact: Dogs and cats pose more of a risk of rabies than shrews- but of course, this is considering that dogs and cats that are stray aren’t given shots.
Shrews can transmit rabies to humans when saliva containing the rabies virus is present.
There’s not enough direct evidence to show that shrews can transmit rabies, but they can still bring about all sorts of other nasty diseases- such as parasites and ticks.
Therefore, it’s always best to follow-up after a shrew bite with your urgent care doctor. Even if you didn’t get rabies, you can still contract other diseases and parasites. So it’s best to seek medical attention after shrew interactions.
And the fact that they’re not docile and will jump out and bite humans many times their size makes it all the reason to make sure you don’t try to fight with one and to get rid of shrews quickly from your home.
Do shrews dig holes?
Yes, some shrews will dig holes, but this typically begins with them finding an abandoned burrow. They’re experts at digging and will excavate your yard, sometimes posing a risk for stairways, outhouses, sheds, and other structures.
With this burrow, they inhabit the empty burrow and make the nest their own.
They’ll use this as a shelter during the colder months and also as a place to sleep.
Shrews don’t naturally dig holes for themselves, they just happen to come across these holes and make it their own.
Do they dig tunnels?
Yes, some shrews are known to dig tunnels also.
They use these tunnels to travel around and get into places where they shouldn’t be.
Most shrews will only use tunnels for short-distance travel and for shelter, but won’t go digging extensive networks of tunnels. So this shouldn’t really be a problem unless they’re digging into your house or yard.
For most people, this shouldn’t pose a problem. If you have tunnels, consider getting them filled or even better adding commercial traps for tunnels to capture any shrews.
How to tell if you have shrews
Shrews leave an obvious trail of destruction behind them wherever they go.
You’ll find any of the following:
- Shrew droppings (small, dark, and shaped like a corkscrew)
- Shrew urine puddles
- Misplaced objects
- Bite marks
- Shrew hair (rarely)
- Garbage or litter scattered
- Pungent odor
- Pilfered plants
- Pilfered plant seeds or bird seeds
- Burrows or tunnels on your lawn
- Shrew tracks (visible tracks in the dirt, sand, or floor with 5 toes and hint feet- front/back feet will overlap with a possible tail mark)
These are telltale signs of shrew damage.
You’ll mainly find these outdoors, but if they’ve made their path into your house, you may also notice these signs of shrew activity- definitely through your house. Be cautious when you see any of these signs of shrews.
You’ll want to track them down and get rid of them ASAP when you notice these telltale signs of shrews.
Simply keeping your house clean will prevent shrews, along with many other pests like:
Shrews in the attic
Shrews are often found in the attic because it provides a steady food source with other pests, and they’re safe from human activities and have plenty of places to hide.
If you find shrews around your home in the attic, the first thing you need to do is restrict them to just the attic. set up traps, use diatomaceous earth, borax, and other barriers to prevent them from getting into your actual house.
To get rid of shrews in the attic, it’s a little tricker. But set up traps as they work best.
What do shrews eat in the house?
Shrews are omnivores but primary carnivores.
This means they feed on other insects they find around your property (or inside your house).
Shrews eat any of the following pests:
- Bird eggs
Shrews also eat a variety of plants, including:
- Plant bulbs
- Plant stalks
Since their natural food source is often found in the wild, if a shrew makes it into your home, they may eat up your food also.
This means either the area around your house is heavily dense with a food source and has a blooming ecosystem and shrews have just become abundant and have eventually migrated into your home.
Keep your home safe from shrews
Or they found no food to eat outdoors but plenty indoors, which would mean you have a serious pest problem and shrews are now part of the problem.
Regardless, you’ll need to clean up outdoors and indoors in order to get rid of shrews.
Because even if you clean indoors and they’re still abundant outdoors, they’ll make their way in. that’s why you need to repel and exterminate them both inside and outside your home.
When they’re in your house, they’ll eat any of the following:
- Human food
- Pet food
- Leftover food
- Table scraps
- And even other shrews
They may gnaw on your furniture, wires, storage, and other various objects you have while looking for food.
Although they’re mainly carnivorous, shrews will eat other things when they’re hungry enough.
They eat up to their entire body weight. And they need to feed every few hours. So they’re one hungry pest. And if you have the food source for them and a cozy overhang for them to hang out, why would they leave?
Of course, you’ll have shrews in your house.
But good thing you’re here because this tutorial will definitely go over how to get rid of them from your house. Basically, if you have shrews in the house, you’re providing them with a food source.
How to get rid of a shrew infestation
Shrews are difficult to get rid of because they’re agile and hard to catch. You’ll have to be very patient.
The good part about shrew infestations is that they typically only come in single units. In other words, you don’t deal with multiple shrews at once, since they’re solitary creatures.
This means that you’ll just have to get rid of one or two shrews unless they’re starving for food and/or competing together to get access to resources.
With patience and varying methods to get rid of them, you should be able to eventually drive the last one out- or kill the shrew.
Remember to switch up your methods if one doesn’t work. Don’t just work the same process blindly- use other techniques at your disposal. Be patient. And keep at it.
Then you’ll eventually be able to drive out your shrew problem and get rid of them.
How to get rid of shrews naturally
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can get rid of shrews naturally without having to resort to nasty pest killers, sprays, and other harmful residues around your house and garden.
The following list will provide you with a good assortment of ways you can use to kill or repel shrews from your home, DIY style.
The best approach would be to choose a few of these methods that you can utilize right away and use a combination of them. If one doesn’t work, use another. Find a combination that works for you.
Shrew traps at home (DIY)
Shrew traps can be built around your home that’ll automatically catch and kill shrews for you.
Shrews are extremely agile, fast, and small, making them hard to catch. There are few different shrew traps you can build that cost you next to nothing.
The easiest one to build requires the following components:
A 5G bucket. You can get these from any hardware store.
A thin metal rod that spans across the diameter of the bucket. You can also get this from any hardware store. Find one as thin as possible, but too thin where it’ll bend/break easily.
- A plastic 1L bottle
- Peanut butter or shrew bait
- A power drill
How to build a DIY shrew trap
Step 1. Take the plastic bottle and drill a hole in the center of the cap, just big enough so that the metal rod fits through it.
Step 2. Drill another hole at the bottom of the bottle and line it up perfectly with the hole in the cap. This way, the metal rod should be able to be inserted into the bottle from the cap, go through the bottle, and exit through the bottom of the bottle.
Think of this like a stake roaster over a BBQ. The bottle would be the roasted pig, and the metal rod would be the stake, going through the pig.
Step 3. Drill two holes about 3 inches below from the rim of the bucket. Drill one on one side and the other straight across from it. The metal rod should be able to fit through these two holes.
These will be the holes that “hold” the “pig.”
Step 4. Put the trap together by inserting the rod through one edge of the bucket, then into the bottle’s cap, then through the bottle, then exiting the bottle from the bottom, then into the other hole on the bucket.
The bottle should spin while suspended over the diameter of the bucket easily, which is what we need for this DIY shrew trap.
Step 5. Fill the bucket about halfway with water.
Step 6. Place either peanut butter or shrew bait on the bottle, facing up.
Step 7. Put the trap where you suspect shrew activity to be present.
Using the trap
How to trap works is that a shrew will sniff out the bait and climb the bucket to reach it.
They’ll climb onto the bottle to eat it, but the bottle will spin and the shrew will fall into the bucket. The water will make it difficult for them to climb back out as their feet will remain wet.
Here’s a video demonstrating the build:
This is a DIY shrew trap that you can make at home. There are plenty of commercial shrew traps that work similarly to mouse traps. You can check these out at stores.
Essential oils to get rid of shrews
Shrews are repelled by some essential oils.
Using essential oils to get rid of shrews is a nice approach because it’s an all-natural approach, doesn’t leave nasty and dangerous residues, and is safe for most pets and children.
This is an advisable approach before using poisons or sprays to kill shrews entirely.
The best and most popular essential oil for shrews would be peppermint oil. This works on shrews, mice, rats, voles, and even rabbits. Peppermint oil is natural and can be easily found in any grocery store.
Here’s how to use peppermint essential oil to repel shrews:
- Buy peppermint oil in pure form.
- Buy a spray bottle.
- Pour the peppermint oil directly in the spray bottle.
- Apply directly to objects, walls, garden, windows, doors, crevices, or anywhere you see shrew activity.
Some people may suggest diluting the peppermint oil with water. This is ineffective and reduces the repelling effect of it against shrews.
Warning: Peppermint oil leaves a very strong scent that lingers. Be careful when using it in your house or anywhere that you’ll be spending a lot of time around.
Here are other essential oils effective against shrews:
- Eucalyptus oil
- Lime oil
- Lemon oil
- Orange oil
- Tea tree oil
- Spearmint oil
- Lavender oil
They would all be applied in the same way as detailed above.
Essential oils for shrews are found everywhere in grocery stores, cheap, and effective at repelling them. The oils won’t’ kill the shrews, but definitely repels them and keeps them out of your house.
Here are some definite essential oils you can use on Pinterest.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous earth (DE) works the same way as other popular rodent repellers like borax and boric acid.
DE can be sprinkled around areas where you suspect there to be rodent and shrew activity. Use this stuff like a barrier, as they’ll be repelled by this and will keep them from going near it.
To use it most effectively, pretend you’re using the powder as a foundation to fence the shrews out.
Sprinkle it anywhere that you want to keep them out of, such as a barrier around your home, and this should keep them from getting into your house.
You can also apply this to entryways around your property.
DE is a natural, white powder mined from the earth. DE is safe, non-toxic, and won’t pose any danger to most pets. Be sure to get the food-grade DE if possible and be sure it’s pure.
How to get rid of shrews in your yard
Shrews are often discovered in the yard or garden before making way into your actual home.
Shrews are naturally found outdoors, but when food or weather permits, they’ll easily make their way into buildings.
If you notice a shrew problem brewing outside, you must stop it before they make it into your home. Here are some ways you can stop shrews and get rid of them from your yard quickly.
How to get rid of shrews in your home
After shrews make it through your yard, the next barrier of entry is your home.
And given all the different ways they can get into your house that we covered above, they’ll find their way in without much effort.
Didn’t stop them prior? Well, now we’ll have to do something about them because we definitely don’t want shrew feces and urine in our foods!
Shrews that are found within the home can be eliminated using many of the same methods outlined above:
- Essentials oils
- DIY shrew traps
- Shrew bait
- Shrew poison
- Commercial shrew traps
Using a combination of these methods will help trap or kill the shrew population. The indoor and outdoor methods are the same, it’s just that you’ll have to think strategically when doing this within your house.
For example, when using DE, place the line of DE around common traffic areas, such as around the perimeter of rooms to fence off shows from entering or escaping a room.
You can also use shrew traps around areas where you notice shrew activity. Shrew poison can be used alongside shrew bait and placed around the home to monitor and kill shrews.
Essential oils can be sprayed where you don’t spend a lot of time, as these oils are pungent and have a strong odor. But they work for repelling shrews.
You’ll just have to think of a new plan when placing these different traps around the home compared to outdoors. Be persistent about it and have some patience.
Did you get rid of your shrew problem?
Summon up some courage, and get some patience to drive those shrews out.
With each passing day, you have another opportunity to focus on thinking of a strategy to get them out of your home or garden.
You can use a combination of all these techniques to see which one works best for you.
You’ll need to be patient and persistent to get anywhere, so be sure to not rush things.
If you have any questions, just leave a comment and let me know. If you’ve dealt with shrews before and you have some tips to share, leave a comment also.
Consider telling a friend!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.