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What Do Shrews Eat?

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If you catch a wee mammal out of the corner of your eye that kind of resembles a fusion of a mouse and a mole, it may be the common shrew. In terms of mealtime, these little creatures are opportunists, happily chowing down on everything from earthworms to bugs.

Opportunistic Feeders

Common shrews are opportunistic feeders, according to the University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web. That means the creature is willing to consume pretty much anything he comes across. Simply put, shrews aren't really that picky when it comes to their dietary preferences.

Basic Shrew Diet

The staples of the shrew diet are earthworms, arthropods, spiders, wood lice, snails, slugs, small rodents, worms and a large array of insects including beetles. Although common shrews consume very high levels of invertebrates and other animal-based foods, they also occasionally eat some plant-based meals -- think conifer seeds, for example. However, plant consumption is relatively uncommon in these animals.

Occasional Carrion Consumption

In some instances, shrews also eat carrion, which is essentially the rotting meat of animals that have died. Compared with the other major components of the shrew diet, however, consumption of carcasses is not as common.

Massive Appetites

Despite shrews' small size, they have immense appetites. When it comes to worms, terrestrial bugs and many other things, the shrew appetite is pretty persistent. In fact, the little guys are fully capable of eating upwards of two times their full weight in just the span of a single day, BBC Nature reports.

Feeding Frequency

Since shrews are capable of eating so much, they eat very frequently throughout the day -- think once every two or three hours or so. There's no fasting for these little animals. Shrews have extremely rapid metabolic rates. Without food for just a mere day, they can pass away due to starvation.

Predators of the Shrew

A lot of larger animals feed on shrews. Some of the predators of the common shrew include barn owls, tawny owls, magpies, hawks, jackdaws and snakes. Domestic felines frequently kill shrews but typically refrain from eating them due to the unpleasant smells their scent glands give off.