Shrews and Moles (Order: Insectivora)
Shrews (Soricidae Family)
Because no sampling at Quail Ridge has focused
on small mammals such as shrews, only one species has been documented.
Three species may occur on the peninsula, and all are small (ca.
100 mm head plus body length (HBL)). The one confirmed species,
Trowbridge’s shrew (Sorex trowbridgii), is a dull
gray shrew, with the belly not significantly paler than the dorsum,
and a relatively long (ca. 50-60 mm) and markedly bicolored tail.
In contrast, both the Vagrant and Ornate shrews (S. vagrans
and S. ornatus, respectively) are brownish or grayish-brown,
lighter ventrally than dorsally, and have shorter tails (ca. 30-50
mm) that are not markedly bicolored. These latter two are very difficult
to distinguish in the field, because it is necessary to look at
dental characteristics; the pigment on the anterior surface of the
upper incisor extends above the median tine in S. ornatus, but not
in S. vagrans. Generally, however, Vagrant shrews are found
in hills and montane regions of northern California, whereas Ornate
shrews are the typical shrew of the Central Valley and southern
coastal ranges (although they do extend north-westward to the area
of Napa Valley and Pt. Reyes).
Moles (Talpidae Family)
Broad-footed mole (Scapanus latimanus).
This mole may be found in meadows where the soil is soft and porous.
Highly specialized fossorial (subterranean) mammals, moles are distinguished
by having forelimbs broader than long, a slightly haired tail, and
a blackish brown coat that appears silvery when smoothed. As adaptations
to their subterranean habitat, they have no external ears, small
eyes, and fur that lies readily in any direction. They feed on insects
and earthworms. Molehills can be distinguished from those of pocket
gophers; the former often is “cloddy” and lacks clear
evidence of a plugged hole, whereas the latter consists of fine
soil with a plugged hole near one side of the mound.
Photo Credits: Title, Mule Deer (Mike
Benard),Vagrant Shrew (William Leonard). For more pictures see: