Alberta, Canada
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Arctic Shrew
Sorex arcticus
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Also known as - Saddle-backed Shrew.

General Description

By Gustave J. Yaki

The range of Arctic or Saddle-backed Shrew includes eastern Siberia. In North America, it is primarily across Canada from the Maritimes to the Yukon and Alaska, with a small portion in midwest USA, west of Lake Michigan to North Dakota.

Its Alberta range is throughout the northern forests and parklands south to latitude 52 N in the east, and to Turner Valley in the west. It apparently avoids the mountains as no specimens have been collected there. It is thought to be relatively common.

Within its range, it favours damp meadows, Trembling Aspen stands, Aspen-Lodgepole Pine forests, Black Spruce-Tamarack bogs and extensive deadfall.

This is a relatively large, long-tailed shrew. The summer pelage is greyish brown on the sides, slightly darker on the back and dirty grey on the underside. The head and shoulders may have a hint of rust or orange. In winter the back is dark brown to coal black with greyish brown sides and smoky grey belly. This is the only Alberta shrew species that distinctly has three colours in its pelage.

Measurements of adults are: total length, 110 mm (4.3 in); tail 41 mm (1.6 in); weight, 8.3 g (.29 oz).

The diet of this shrew includes some adult and larval insects, centipedes, earthworms, snails and slugs. Carrion is also consumed.

Breeding occurs from March to September. Six to ten young occur in a litter, with probably two litters per year.

This shrew is known to have lived at least 18 months. Populations as high as 12 per hectare (5 per acres) have been reported.

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Where to find Arctic Shrews in Alberta   

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Arctic Shrew Behaviour   

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Interesting Facts about Arctic Shrews   

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Arctic Shrew Stories from our Readers   

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Arctic Shrew Sounds

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Recent Arctic Shrew Reports in Alberta


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Arctic Shrew Hotspots in Alberta


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Allied Species found in Alberta