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Water Shrew

(Neomys fodiens)

Size: 6-10cm – 5-8cm tail Weight: 8-23g Lifespan: max. 3 years


Identification: With no visible ears and very small eyes they have a long thick whiskered snout. The dorsal fur is silvery grey brown to black. The belly is usually very pale in colour but all-black individuals occur. A fringe of stiff hairs runs the length of the underside of the tail. The major confusion species is common shrew with white ear tufts. General: A native but scarce species normally found in wetland habitats but can be found some distance from water on occasion. They are well adapted to a mostly aquatic lifestyle. Breeding is in the late spring/summer. Young are weaned after 28 days and are independent after a further two weeks. They are usually solitary and aggressively defend their territory, feeding mostly on land and aquatic insects, but will take small fish and frogs, etc., which they paralyse with their venomous saliva. They are mainly nocturnal but due to their high metabolism they need to feed frequently so will forage during the day. They have underground burrows to rest in when not feeding. Water Riverbank burrow shrews have few predators and a relatively long-life expectancy. Distribution - UK: There are approx. 2 million distributed widely throughout the UK in all parts except for the north west of Scotland and some Scottish islands. The population is declining.

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Cambridgeshire Mammal Atlas  
Cambridgeshire Mammal Atlas