Body length: 2 – 2 3/5"
Diet: arthropods and vertebrate animals
Shrews are the smallest land mammals on earth, and the desert shrew is tiny indeed. An adult weighs 3 – 5 grams (1/10 - 1/7 of an ounce, or less than a nickel), while a newborn is only 1/4 of a gram.
Desert shrews spend a great deal of time underground, living among the roots of plants and in packrat nests. Like many desert animals, they apparently do not need to drink water. Shrews are aggressive hunters, taking spiders, scorpions, centipedes, moths, beetles, and even lizards. In captivity, they will even eat rodents and birds.
At Tonto National Monument, shrews have been found only in Cave Creek Canyon, but probably occur throughout the Monument.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Botanists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.