Sorex fumeus
Smoky shrew

Key Characteristics

The smoky shrew is a small mammal (4.3 to 5.0 in/11 to 12.6 cm in length) with an elongated head, pointed nose, tiny eyes, and short dark fur. The tail is two-toned, dark on top and yellowish-tan below, and is between 1.7 and 2.0 inches (4.2 and 5.2 cm) in length.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Sorex fumeus

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


This species inhabits northern hardwood and boreal forests with thick leaf litter over loosely packed soils. In Michigan, it has only been documented on Sugar Island along the St. Mary's River between Ontario and mainland Chippewa County. There it was found in a mesic northern forest dominated by sugar maple. In Ontario, it is also known to inhabit (but doesn't necessarily prefer) cedar swamps, bogs, and other mixed coniferous forests with saturated soils.

Specific Habitat Needs

Downed woody debris needed in Boreal forest, Mesic northern forest

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.


Maintaining forest canopy cover and thick leaf litter would be beneficial to this species.

Active Period

Breeding from fourth week of March to fourth week of September

Parturition from third week of April to fourth week of October

Survey Methods

The smoky shrew is active at all times during day and night throughout the year, though populations are at their peak between July and October. Like many other small mammals, populations are cyclical from year to year and surveys should be conducted for several consecutive years to obtain the most reliable results.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 18, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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