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    Author(s): Thomas J. Maier
    Date: 2005
    Source: Special publication of the international society of shrew biologists. 1: 361-366.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (162.36 KB)


    Northern short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda) have been reported to prey upon relatively large salamanders and anurans. Nevertheless, detailed observations of such behavior are rare, though important in providing insights into shrew foraging strategies, prey capture and handling, and possibly the coevolution of predator-antipredator mechanisms. Natural and staged interactions between multiple B. brevicauda and a fossorial eastern spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii) were observed in western Massachusetts, August-November 2000. Routing the buried toad during laboratory trials via both surface and sub-surface contact (both resulting in the toad's eruption to surface), shrews attacked with varying success; less successfully when attacking the toad's cephalic region, more successfully when seizing the toad's hind limbs and dragging it backwards, thus circumventing numerous anuran antipredator mechanisms. Although B. brevicauda would seem adept at attacking adult S. holbrookii, its role as a common predator of this anuran remains uncertain.

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    Maier, Thomas J. 2005. Predatory behaviors of Blarina brevicauda toward a fossorial eastern spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus holbrookii). Special publication of the international society of shrew biologists. 1: 361-366.

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