North American Lest Shew

Photo Credit: Esther Wang '18

Photo Credit: Esther Wang ’18

 

Even though I am one of the world’s smallest mammals, growing up to 3 inches, the venom in my saliva can cause pain and swelling on any human flesh I skink my teeth into. You can spot with me grayish-brown or reddish-brown fur and a black ash or white belly. My tail is extremely small reaching a total length of about .5-.75 inches. I also help humans exterminate pests by including them in my diet. My favorite foods include a variety of insects such as beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets as well as snails and slugs. Due to my high metabolism rate, I am required to eat as much food as our body weight daily which is around .14-.25oz. As a very social animal, I enjoy sharing my burrow and food with my fellow friends. My biggest enemies include owls, hawks, raccoons and snakes, who brutally kill me for food. However, even if I do not get taken by one of these predators, my lifespan only lasts for less than 2 years. North American Lest Shews are often found in meadows, pastures and open grassy fields in places ranging from Michigan, Connecticut to Pennsylvania. Sadly, due to the decline in cropland for development and the use of pesticides and pollutants, our population is declining because of the lack of living space we now have. But don’t worry! You can help us by supporting programs in Connecticut that restore or protect costal dunes and marshes. To learn more about me and other endangered animals in Connecticut visit wildanimalconservation.wordpress.com.