The Shrew-mole is a small mole that has many shrew-like features. Its fur colour ranges from sooty blue-black to nearly black. The fur is directed backwards like that of a shrew and lacks the lush, velvety texture characteristic of other moles. It has no external ears, and its eyes are minute and hidden in the fur. The nose is long and flattened above and below; it is equipped with eight pairs of vibrissae near the base, and the tip has a fringe of short bristles. The feet and tail are scaly. The front feet are longer than they are wide and are specialized for digging with long, curved claws. The thick scaly tail is noticeably constricted at the base; it is sparsely covered with short stiff hairs, and a tuft of hairs extends from the tip.
The skull has 36 teeth. The first upper incisor is enlarged and flattened on the front and back; the upper canine is larger than the third upper incisor. The auditory bullae are incomplete.
IdentificationThe Shrew-mole can be readily distinguished from the Coast Mole (Scapanus orarius) and Townsend's Mole (S. townsendii) by three external traits: a smaller body, a longer tail and front paws longer than their width. The skulls of the Coast Mole and Townsend's Mole are larger (skull length greater than 25.0 mm, palatal length greater than 13.0 mm) and have 44 teeth.
Dental Formulaincisors: 3/3
Measurementstotal length: 112 (98-125) n = 183
tail vertebrae: 37 (29-50) n = 184
hind foot: 16 (14-19) n = 184
weight: 11.1 (8.0-14.5) n = 33