Cryptotis parva
Least shrew

Key Characteristics

The least shrew is one of the smallest of Michigan's shrews, with a body length of 2.5 to 3.3 inches (6.4 - 8.3 cm) and a short tail 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.3 - 1.9 cm) long. Like many shrews, it has an elongated head, pointed nose, tiny eyes, and short grayish brown fur.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Cryptotis parva

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.


The least shrew inhabits dry upland meadows with dense coverage of grasses and forbs. It can also be found in marshy areas, fencerows, and woodland edges. Nests are often found tucked under rocks, logs, discarded lumber, metal sheeting, and hay bales left in fields over winter.

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.


The management needs for this species are poorly understood, other than the need to maintain grassy upland habitat with a dense cover of vegetation. Populations have severely declined due to natural phenomena, genetic limitations, and/or intensive land use by humans.

Active Period

Breeding from first week of March to fourth week of November

Survey Methods

Least shrews are active year-round, day and night, but activity is thought to peak during night, early pre-dawn before sunrise, and later afternoon. A large majority of specimens found in Michigan were captured between October and March, despite year-round effort. Least shrews typically do not build burrows and prefer to remain under objects during the day.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 23, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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