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BC Conservation Data Centre: Species Summary

Sorex hoyi
American Pygmy Shrew

Scientific Name: Sorex hoyi Baird, 1858
English Name: American Pygmy Shrew
Classification / Taxonomy
Scientific Name - Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at:
Classification Level: Species
Species Group: Vertebrate Animal
Species Code: M-SOHO
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Soricomorpha Soricidae
Conservation Status / Legal Designation
Global Status: G5 (Apr 2016)
Provincial Status: S4S5 (Feb 2015)
BC List: Yellow
Provincial FRPA list:   
Provincial Wildlife Act:
SARA Schedule:
General Status Canada: 4 - Secure (2005)
Ecology & Life History
General Description:
Global Reproduction Comments: In Kentucky-Tennessee, primary birth period was January-early March; individuals entered the trappable population about 8 weeks later; births also occurred August-December but at a lower rate; few were born in June and July (Feldhamer et al. 1993). Gestation lasts probably 2-3 weeks. Litter size is 5-6. One litter/year (?). Sexually mature in second summer.
Global Ecology Comments: In Michigan, densities of 0.2-2 individuals per acre were estimated (Baker 1983).
Migration Characteristics:
(Global / Provincial)
    Local Migrant:
    Distant Migrant:
    Within Borders Migrant:
Y /
N /
N /
na /
(Type / Subtype / Dependence)
Global Habitat Comments: Found in a variety of habitats. Appears to prefer grassy openings of boreal forest. Moist habitats are preferred over dry areas. In Kentucky-Tennessee, much less active above ground than was S. LONGIROSTRIS (Feldhamer et al. 1993). Nest sites are not well known.
Food Habits: Invertivore: Adult, Immature
Global Food Habits Comments: Primarily dependent upon invertebrates. Diet in New Brunswick included mainly insect larvae, beetles, and spiders (Whitaker and French 1984).
Global Phenology: Circadian: Adult, Immature
Global Phenology Comments: Peak activity occurs at night.
Provincial Phenology:
(1st half of month/
2nd half of month)
Colonial Breeder: N
Length(cm)/width(cm)/Weight(g): 10/ / 4
Elevation (m) (min / max): Global: 
Endemic: N
Global Range Comment: Distributed throughout much of Canada and Alaska, excluding northern tundra zones. Contiguous U.S. populations are limited to the northern Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes region, and New England, with disjunct populations in the Southern Rockies (e.g., northern Colorado) and Appalachians (e.g., widespread and locally abundant in Virginia). In the 1970s and 1980s, recorded in southern Indiana, Kentucky, and western Tennessee (see Feldhamer et al. 1993), and South Carolina (Mengak et al. 1987).
Distribution UnitOccurrence StatusOrigin Status  
Authors / Contributors
Global Information Author: Hammerson, G.
Last Updated: Sep 13, 1995
Provincial Information Author:
Last Updated:
References and Related Literature
Baker, R. H. 1983. Michigan mammals. Michigan State University Press. 642 pp.
Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 438 pp.
Carraway, L. N. 1995. A key to Recent Soricidae of the western United States and Canada based primarily on dentaries. Occasional Papers of the Natural History Museum, University of Kansas (175):1-49.
Churchfield, S. 1992. The Natural History of Shrews. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. 192 pp.
Dierseing, V.E. 1980. Systematics and evolution of the pygmy shrews (subgenus Microsorex) of North America. J. Mamm. 61(1): 76-101.
Feldhamer, G. A., et al. 1993. Habitat partitioning, body size, and timing of parturition in pygmy shrews and associated soricids. J. Mamm. 74:403-411.
George, S. B. 1988. Systematics, historical biogeography, and evolution of the genus Sorex. J. Mammalogy 69:443-461.
Godin, A. J. 1977. Wild mammals of New England. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 304 pp.
Handley, C. O., Jr. 1991. Mammals. Pages 539-616 in K. Terwilliger, coordinator. Virginia's endangered species: proceedings of a symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.
Jackson, H.H. 1928. A taxonomic review of the North Americanlong tailed shrews (genera Sorex and Microsorex). N. Amer. Fauna. 51:1-238.
Long, C.A. 1972. Notes on habitat preference and reproduc-tion in pygmy shrews (Microsorex). Can. Field-Nat. 86(2): 155-160.
Long, C.A. 1974. Microsorex hoyi and Microsorex thompsoni. American Society of Mammalogists, Mammalian Species 33:1-4.
Mengak, Micheal T., et. al. 1987. Abundance and distribution of shrews in western South Carolina. Brimleyana (13):63-66.
van Zyll de Jong, C.G. 1983. Handbook of Canadian mammals. 1. Marsupials and insectivores. National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 210 pp.
Whitaker, J. O., Jr., and T. W. French. 1984. Foods of six species of sympatric shrews from New Brunswick. Can. J. Zool. 62:622-626.
Wrigley, R.F., J.E. DuBois, and H.W. Copland. 1979. Habitat, abundance and distribution of six species of shrew in Manitoba. J. Mamm. 60:505-520.

Please visit the website Conservation Status Ranks for definitions of the data fields used in this summary report.

Suggested Citation:

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 1995. Species Summary: Sorex hoyi. B.C. Minist. of Environment. Available: (accessed May 20, 2019).