How to Care for a Shrew

By Timothy Baron

Shrews are wild animals and unlike dogs, cats or even rats they will never develop an affectionate rapport with humans. That being said, sometimes it is necessary to care for one, be it because your cat injured it or because you found it half-frozen on your front step. You may even choose to keep one in a terrarium like a snake or lizard, but bear in mind that caring for shrews is challenging.

Emergency Care

If the shrew has been injured by a cat or dog, find an emergency caretaker as soon as possible. Most major cities have a wildlife rescue department. Contact them first.

If the shrew is in stable condition, prepare a shelter. Choose a cage that a shrew can't escape from. Given their small bodies, they can squeeze through most wire meshes, even those which will hold mice. To be safe, use a terrarium.

Layer the bottom of the terrarium with at least 6 inches of dirt so the shrew has room to dig and make a home. Like moles and voles, shrews are burrowing creatures. Decorate the terrarium with stones, leaves and other outdoor objects to help reduce stress for the animal.

Fill a small saucer with water and place it in the terrarium. Replace the water every day so it is fresh and clean. Due to their small size, shrews have trouble drinking from water dispensers such as those used for gerbils, mice, and rats.

Provide enough food. Every day shrews must eat an amount equal to 80 to 90 percent of their own body mass. They are primarily insectivorous, which means they prefer grubs, earthworms, beetles, and other insects. Some larger species even eat frogs and small mice. You can purchase baby mice and crickets at most pet stores. As a last resort, ground beef may also work.

According to wildlife rehabilitator M. D. Smith, "when shrews seem to have starved, but are still alive, it is sometimes possible to revive them by giving them a few drops of concentrated glucose solution . . . or a strong solution of sugar water."