Water Shrew - Neomys fodiens


The Water Shrew is the largest of the British shrews; it has black upper parts and a whitish underside, between which there is a clear demarcation. Typically for most shrews, the snout is long and the eyes and ears are small. The fur is short and dense and there are often tufts of white around the eyes and on the ears. Stiff hairs border the feet and form a keel on the underside of the tail, which aid in swimming. This species is a 'red-toothed shrew'; iron is deposited in the enamel of the tooth-tips, making them more resistant to wear-and-tear, and giving them a red appearance.

Identification difficulty

This semi-aquatic species is found close to water, in stream banks, ponds, rivers, reed-beds and fens, with a particular preference for watercress beds. However, it may also occur away from water in damp woodlands, and hedgerows.

When to see it

Active throughout the year but mainly at night.

Life History

Inhabits burrows during the day and emerges to feed on invertebrates at night. They dive under water to obtain prey such as freshwater shrimps and caddis fly larvae, and the occasional frog, newt or small fish may be tackled.

UK Status

Water Shrews have a wide distribution in England, are quite common in Wales but rare in areas of northern and western Scotland.

VC55 Status

Uncommon in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map