Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew

General Information: The Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew is a tiny, mouse-sized mammal with a long snout and long tail. It eats insects and other invertebrates such as snails and worms. It is currently only found in 15 locations, mainly in small remnant patches of natural habitat along the margins of agricultural areas.  

CategoryFocal species
Surface Water Needs: Wetlands
Federal Listing Status: Endangered
State Listing Status: Species of Special Concern

Potential Conservation Actions:  

  • Management plans for wetlands and ponds
  • Grazing plans
  • Limit distance between riparian environments and upland areas

Fun Fact

Most predators (except owls) will not eat the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew because they don’t like how it smells.


Buena Vista Lake ornate shrews like moist soil and dense vegetation, perfect conditions for its prey (insects and other invertebrates). The dense vegetation provides some protection from its predators, primarily owls, and includes features such as downed logs and branches.

Riparian forests




Disturbance and Stressors

Land uses requiring significant water use, such as urban development and agriculture, lower the water table, reduce their food source (insects and invertebrates), and remove vegetation cover. Water infrastructure, such as a canal, does not provide the riparian environment the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew needs. Pesticide or herbicide applications directly impact the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew. Effects of climate change, including prolonged droughts, will further limit habitat for the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew.


Urban development

Pesticides and contaminants

Habitat fragmentation

Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew. Image via US FWS.

Sources: Barry and Shaffer 1994; Feaver 1971; Holland et al. 1990; Loredo et al. 1996; Thomson et al. 2016; Trenham and Shaffer 2001; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2014, 2017, and 2020
Photo credits: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service