The Southern short-tailed shrew is the smallest shrew in its genus. It has a comparatively heavy body, with short limbs and a thick neck, a long, pointed snout, and ears that are nearly concealed by its soft, dense fur. As its name indicates, the hairy tail is relatively short. The feet are adapted for digging, with five toes ending in sharp, curved claws. The fur is slate gray and is paler on the underparts.
Southern short-tailed shrews are found in the southeastern United States, from southern Virginia to eastern Texas, and in the Mississippi valley as far as southern Illinois. Within this region, they live primarily in pine forests. However, these range from dry to wet and even swampy habitats, as well as disturbed forests and abandoned agricultural land.
Southern short-tailed shrews are social animals and may share their burrow systems with several individuals. The male and female live together during the pre-breeding season. These small animals are active during the night and spend much of their time in their burrow systems or in leaf litter. Their burrows are built in two layers, one near the surface, and a deeper one joined below it. The burrows are often built below logs, which can be penetrated and honeycombed if the log is rotten.
Southern short-tailed shrews are carnivorous animals. Their diet consists of insects, annelids, hypogeous fungi, slugs and snails, centipedes, and spiders. Southern short-tailed shrews may even store snails for the winter.
Little is known about the mating system in Southern short-tailed shrews. Their breeding season lasts from March to November, and females have two or three litters per year. The gestation period lasts from 21 to 30 days, and each litter consists of two to six shrewlets. Young are born naked and blind. They are reared in nests of grasses and leaves at the end of a tunnel reaching about 30 cm (12 in) below the ground, or in rotten logs. These nests for the young are much larger than the adults' resting nests. The mother provides all the care to her young. At 18-20 days after birth shrewlets begin to leave the nest and are weaned soon after that. Females in this species reach reproductive maturity at around six weeks of age and males attain reproductive maturity when they are around twelve weeks of age.
At present, there are no major threats to Southern short-tailed shrews.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Southern short-tailed shrew total population size, but this animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Due to their foraging habits, Southern short-tailed shrews most probably control insect populations. They are also food for local predators such as snakes, hawks, owls, and foxes.