Biologists from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and UALR's College of Science and Math are asking for the public's help to find and determine the status of the southeastern shrew in Arkansas.
One way to find shrews is to locate the roosts of barn owls, a major shrew predator.
The biologists are hoping the public can tell them where the owls are roosting.
"One method to locate shrews is to look for shrew skulls in barn owl pellets," said Blake Sasse, AGFC's non-game mammal coordinator.
Southeastern shrews, tiny mouse-like animals the size of a human thumb, are common in the southeastern United States, but may be rare west of the Mississippi River.
UALR graduate student Garrett Mikel and his advisor David Clark, an instructor of biology, are trying to determine how common the southeastern shrew is in Arkansas.
Arkansas' shrews are mouse-like in appearance, but possess a longer and more pointed nose and the tips of their teeth are dark in color.
"Shrews are remarkable -- very active predators that search through leaf litter for insects, spiders and other prey sometimes much larger than themselves," Clark said. "They have voracious appetites and an unusually high metabolism that requires them to eat nearly their body weight in food daily."
Mikel said, "Barn owls can be distinguished from other owls by a tawny orange-brown plumage, lacking ear tufts and possessing a white heart-shaped face."
"The public can help locate barn owls because they may roost in barn lofts, church steeples, trees and large nest boxes. Their roosts can be identified by the presence of owl pellets, which consist of hair and bones that cannot be digested by the owl," Clark said.
Anyone knowing of any barn owl roost sites in Arkansas can contact Clark at 501-569-3502 or e-mail Mikel at firstname.lastname@example.org.