In the mid-13th centuries the shrew was believed to have a venomous bite. People were afraid and superstitious of the tiny mammal, and therefore when a woman acted anything but docile, she was referred to as a “shrew.” It was implied that she was a “peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman.”
But the shrew is not poisonous. They are like moles or mice. The Elephant Shrew is actually not a “true shrew.” They eat insects and have scaly tails like a opossum and sometimes hop around like little rabbits. They are pretty cool. In 2009, an Elephant Shrew was born at the National Zoo which is rare:
So go right ahead and call me a “shrew.” Because I will take that to mean I am monogamous, industrious, and independent, with a flexible nose.