Are Shrews Poisonous to Humans – How to Get Rid of Them?

are shrews poisonous to humans

With the looks of a small mouse, the shrew is a small animal.

Their size varies between 3 to 5 inches in length, and they don’t appear to be harmful.

But you will be surprised to find that they can be extremely dangerous.

Because of their extremely sharp and venomous teeth, shrews may be a threat to humans and a great danger to other small animals as well.

They paralyze their prey by injecting venom into them. Though small in size, these venomous animals can pack a punch.

Are Shrews Poisonous?

Shrews have venom, but they are not poisonous to humans and pets.

In other words, shrews aren’t poisonous, but they bite and inject their venom.

Remember, venom and poison aren’t the same.

Poisonous animals produce poison to defend themselves when touched or threatened.

But, venomous animals like shrews bite and release venom into the body.

It is usually done at the time of hunting or while they are fighting for themselves or for their habitat.

The glands present in their mouth release venom along with saliva when it bites the other animal from the grooves in their teeth.

Are They Aggressive?

Being territorial animals, yes, they may get aggressive to the other shrews and invaders.

Shrews like to live in gardens, forests, fields, and swampy locations.

Once they find the right location to make their nest, they aggressively defend that location.

Especially if a location has a good supply of vegetation and ground to dig burrows, then they can easily live there.

The thing you need to know here is shrews also produce a strong smell from their body to mark their territory.

And, if an intruder tries to enter their territory, they use their sharp and venomous teeth as their defensive weapons.

Can They Kill Humans?

Often human beings are scared of whether the venom of shrews is harmful to them or not.

Fortunately, the venom isn’t life-threatening to humans.

And there are rare cases where shrews are seen to attack humans aggressively.

Usually, they run away and avoid conflicts with humans. But, if they feel threatened, they may bite you to find a chance to escape.

The venom of shrews is majorly used for hunting and defending their habitat.

The venom is hazardous for small animals but hardly affects large animals.

Though the venom isn’t life-threatening, a shrew bite can lead to high pain and inflammation in the area.

The good thing is that the ache and swelling may ease after some days.

But, just like any other animal shrews that live in wild territories, they may carry infections and bacteria, including rabies.

In order to prevent any complications in the future, it is suggested that you seek instant medical attention.

are shrews venomous

Are Shrews Dangerous to Pets?

Shrews aren’t dangerous to your dogs and cats because of their tiny size.

However, you should try to create distance and discourage encounters between your pets and shrews.

For the purpose of defending themselves, their ferocious predators often attack and can kill small animals and those little bigger than themselves.

Like any other wild animal, the small shrew will do everything to fight for its life, including using claws, biting, and scratching at the animal standing against it.

Since their venom is fatal to small animals like frogs, worms, and lizards, they paralyze their victim very easily and immobilize them completely, making it simpler for them to eat.

However, bigger animals such as dogs and cats may not be much affected by their venom – but a bite can, of course, lead to infection.

Also, the venom injected is extremely painful.

In case your pet has been bitten by a shrew, you should take it to a vet immediately for the proper treatment.

Where Are Shrews Mostly Found?

With more than 386 species of shrew present in the world, only three of them are available in North America.

North America has the biggest shrew species called the northern short-tailed shrew.

Next comes the North American least shrew (Cryptotis parva). It is the smallest of all the kinds seen in this area.

They are just around 3 inches in length and feature a tail and long-pointed snout.

The Northern short-tailed shrew is the most common species that are often found in the USA.

You can find them in big numbers on the East Coast.

are shrews dangerous

How to Get Rid of Them Naturally?

Shrews don’t come in human contact and usually don’t trespass homes.

However, if the wild habitats are not in their favor, they may enter indoors.

Because of their high metabolism, shrews are seen to eat a lot.

Most often, they feed on grasshoppers, wasps, crickets, spiders, snails, earthworms, slugs, centipedes, butterflies, and moth larvae.

However, at times they can even hunt down small chickens, small rabbits, rats, mice, or even small shrews.

The thing you also need to consider is they can be problematic and can create a mess in your house (especially the food stores) by urinating or leaving an unpleasant odor behind them.

However, you don’t have to bear their trouble for long because here are some tips and tricks to get rid of them from your property.

The very first step to getting rid of them starts with identifying them properly.

Step 1- Recognize

Many people cannot recognize them properly in their homes as they confuse them with a mouse.

Thinking of mice, they sometimes pick them up only to find that they get bitten hard by these critters.

The fact is – unlike mice, shrews are not rodents.

They are tiny mammals that belong to their own family of Soricidae and can be easily differentiated by their long pointed snout and pungent smell.

Compared to rats, these solitary creatures also have smaller eyes, grey fur, and shorter, thicker tail.

Step 2- Use Shrew Repellents

If you are not interested in catching shrews alive, using shrew repellent is a great idea to keep them at bay from your territory.

There are several repellents that will help you in accomplishing your objective.

The one which I like most is Shake-Away Rodent Repellent Granules which is readily available online at stores like Amazon.

The granules of this repellent have a particular smell that prevents the shrews from entering an area.

Plus, it is chemically safe and doesn’t pose any threat to plants, trees, pets, or children.

These repellent granules are made with the formula of innate shrew fear.

As soon as the shrews smell it, they become alert and resist visiting that place.

A few benefits of using this shrew repellent are:

  • It is a simple to use repellent and doesn’t make any mess
  • It is cost-effective and secure for trees, plants, pets, and your children
  • It doesn’t harm the shrews also but just prohibits them from entering your premises
  • As the granules are heavy, they may not get washed away with rainwater and yield service even after a heavy rainfall

When it comes to using this formula, I must say that it is very convenient to use.

You just need to spread the granules over the area where shrews visit or reside most, and within a few days, you will see that they will stop visiting the place automatically. 

Step 3- Catch Them In Live Traps

The best way to get rid of shrews is to trap them alive. It is possibly the most humane method available.

However, before you plan a live trap for the shrew, there are a few points to consider. These are:

  • First of all, you should place the trap in an area where they have the highest activity
  • The trap size you choose should be the size of a shrew so that this small animal can fit in easily
  • The bait to be placed inside the trap should be one of the favorites of shrews, like peanut butter or bacon

Where to place the trap?

Before placing the trap, choose a location. If you have an outdoor shrew issue, then put the shrew trap at their burrow’s entrance.

However, if you have an indoor shrew problem, then the right place to keep the trap is along the walls at a place where the activities of shrews are highly noticeable.

Once you have set the best trap for them, it is important to look for the best bait for these notorious animals.

How to bait the shrew trap?

Because these tiny pests are voracious eaters, you can use anything and everything as their trap bait.

However, the best bait would be Earthworms hot dog slices or bacon along with peanut butter.

While preparing the trap, it’s good to put some rolled oats with peanut butter on the trigger mechanism of the trap to avoid chances of stolen bait.

It would be better to use something similar as bait which shrews look out for in and around your house.  

You have a number of options to consider here.

For example, if your fruits and vegetation are being attacked, you should go for Loganberry paste.

If there are nuts on your premises from trees or bird feeders, then Pecan Paste can serve as a good option.

shrew poison bait

What Are the Best Live Traps for Trapping Shrews?

As I mentioned, choosing the right live trap is a key to success when you want to catch shrews or other rodents in your home or backyard.

Some of the best ones that I have personally tried before are as below:

1- Grandpa Gus’s Trap that works

This trap is designed perfectly for shrews, and it works on the mechanism of gravity.

With this trap, you can catch them in no time without facing any troubles of touching the trap.

So far, it is the simplest and most effective way to catch a shrew alive.

Some of the benefits of using this are:

  • You can set the complete system within seconds
  • It is clean, and you don’t have to touch the interiors
  • It has two doors to allow you to trap shrews from both the directions
  • Once trapped, you just have to open the trap and set the animal free at a distant location

Once you have bought the trap, you just have to get some favorite snacks for the shrews.

Put the bait at the back end of the trap to ensure that the shrew walks completely inside the trap.

As soon as the shrews reach the trap tube, the door gets closed due to gravity and it will trap the animal in the tube without injuring them in any way.

2- Havahart Live Animal Two-Door Cage Trap

This animal trap is recommended for capturing small-sized rodents.

It’s constructed with sturdy wire mesh supported by steel to enjoy a long life.

The interior and edges of the trap are smoothened to avoid any injuries to the trapped shrews.

The trap has two doors with gravity action. Plus, to avoid rusting and oxidation, it is electrified.

Some of the good things that I like about this trap are:

  • It doesn’t cause any harm to shrews
  • You can get the trap at a reasonable rate
  • It is highly durable because of the rust-free material used
  • The size of the trap is according to the size of the shrew, which doesn’t allow the shrews to escape or steal baits from the trap.

First and foremost, you should put the bait at the end of the trap, keeping in mind that the chosen bait should be as per the taste of the shrew.

Once the bait is set, place the trap at the entrance of their burrows or areas where they regularly visit.

Cover the trap with flowers, leaves, and twigs.

All well, you have set up the trap to catch shrews. Make sure you check the trap regularly.

Other Related Questions:

Do shrews dig tunnels?

Yes, shrews will most often uproot the plants and dig their own tunnel systems when they want to hide in your garden.

You can find several shrew holes as an entrance that are about one inch in diameter.

These can mostly be found around the moist areas of your yard and garden soil with overgrown vegetation.

Why do shrews eat so much?

Despite their tiny size, shrews are good at eating too much food in your house.

This is because of fact that mammals will need more calories in proportion to their body weight in order to survive.

Also, the surface area of the shrew’s body is larger relative to their body mass and volume.

Can you use essential oils to get rid of shrews?

Yes, shrews hate the smell of some essential oils and can be repelled by them if used correctly.

Peppermint oil works best on shrews, mice, rats, and voles to repel them away.

You can spray some of it using a sprayer at areas where you see them coming most.

Few other essential oils that can also be used for repelling the shrews are:

  • Lemon oil
  • Orange oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Spearmint oil
  • Lavender oil

Using essential oils for shrews is also safe and all-natural.

So, it’s best to use them before you use other approaches like poisons, sprays, or traps for killing them.

The Conclusion

The shrew only bites in self-defense, so you shouldn’t confront them in any way.

The bite may not be fatal but could be a source of infection and bacteria.

They are among the most well-hidden mammals that can hardly be seen.

In case you see them around, do not disturb them.

Be a little cautious with your pets; take proper action to scare them away and stop them from coming again.

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