Northern Short-tailed Shrew
(Blarina brevicauda)

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Coronal section through middle of brain
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Physical characteristics and distribution

The average head and body length of B. brevicauda is 75-105 mm, tail length is 17-30 mm. Weights range between 15-30. Upper parts are slate gray with slightly lighter underparts. The eyes are small and the snout is pointed and the ears are hidden by the thick furcoat. Females have six mammae, and both sexes have submaxillary glands which, when a bite is inflicted by B. brevicauda, secrete a poison that effects the nervous system of its victim.

They are found in nearly all land habitats and use their stout noses and forepaws to create burrows, but will also use surface and subsurface pathways made by moles and other rodents. The diet of B. brevicauda consists of Invertebrates, small vertebrates, and plant material. When prey is readily available, they occupy relatively small stationary areas, but these can quickly change to larger shifting areas when food becomes scarce.

They are diurnal and nest under rocks or logs, or in tunnels, which they line with grasses and leaves. Breeding season extends from early spring to early fall with gestation averaging 21 days. Litter size is 3-10, usually 5-7. Young leave the nest at 18-20 days, weaning occurs a few days later. Females reach sexual maturity at 6 weeks, males at 12.

Geographic range is S Canada west to C Saskatchewan and east to SE Canada, south to Nebraska and N Virginia (USA).

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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