Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



The short-tailed shrew, Blarina brevicauda, and the masked shrew, Sorex cinereus, are the two representatives of the shrew family in Brookings County, South Dakota. These mammals, by the very fact that they are insectivores, are potential hosts for a varied fauna of parasites, as insects serve as intermediate hosts for a number of helminths. Although shrews are insectivores, they are omnivorous. An opportunist, the shrew will consume an abundance of any available food. They have been known to feed on a bird's nest (Horvath, 1965) and attack a garter snake (Byle, 1965). Hair from various small mammals was found in the digestive tract of short-tailed shrews examined by Lutz (1964). Lutz (1964) described four fairly distinct strata in the short-tailed shrew's earthly habitat. The first stratum is the upper litter or surface. The second stratum is the soil-litter interface. It is at this level that the shrew does his primary foraging for snails, beetles, and other invertebrates. Below these two strata are the tunnel systems. This is the first survey study of shrew parasites in the upper Midwest. In South Dakota, Fasbender (1956) described Hymenolepis anthocephalus, a cestode from B. brevicauda. The shrews collected for that study were from an area approximately one hundred miles south of Brookings. The species described was not recovered in the present study. Two other survey studies conducted in different parts of the country include one by Oswald (1958), in which he described numerous helminths from the short-tailed shrew in Ohio. The other survey study was conducted by Rausch (1962). In it he described a number of helminths taken from a shrew-mole, Neurotrichus gibbsii, in Oregon. Outside of the United States, survey studies have been conducted by Sharpe (1964) in England and by Lewis (1968) in Wales. The importance of the last studies lies not so much in the particular species of helminths discovered, but together with the two survey studies from the United States they help to point out the tremendous variability of parasitic fauna possible for shrews.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Shrews -- Parasites



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University