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American pygmy shrew

American pygmy shrew (Sorex hoyi)
Photo © P. Myers, Mammal Images Library of the American Society of Mammalogists

Features and Behaviors

The American adult pygmy shrew is three to three and one-half inches in length, including the tail. It has black-brown body fur, tiny, black eyes and a long, pointed nose. The belly fur is a lighter version of that on the back.

The American pygmy shrew may be found in the northeastern one-fourth and possibly the southeastern one-fourth of Illinois. This mammal lives in woods and adjacent grassy areas. It requires fallen or rotting logs or forest floor litter to be a part of the habitat. The pygmy shrew eats insect larvae, spiders, beetles and ants. It is active year round. This shrew releases a musky odor when it is disturbed. The American pygmy shrew is the smallest mammal in Illinois by weight. It is believed that this shrew produces more than one litter per year.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Eulipotyphla
Family: Soricidae

Illinois Status: common, native