occurs throughout Eurasia, to western Siberia, northern Asia Minor, the Pacific coast of Siberia, and North Korea.
Found on the banks of both standing or flowing fresh water and adjacent areas.
- Terrestrial Biomes
- Aquatic Biomes
- lakes and ponds
- rivers and streams
A darkly colored shrew with a white underside. Coloration on dorsal and ventral sides are sharply demarcated. A fringe of bristles runs along the ventral surface of the tail and on the paws which are thought to serve as a swimming aid. Teeth have red tips. Females have five pairs of mammae.
The breeding season in England occurs fom April to September, with multiple litters per season. Litter size can be between 3 and 12, more commonly 5 or 6. Gestation lasts approximately 20 days, and lactation twice that. Sexual maturity is reached between 6 and 8 months.
- Key Reproductive Features
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
These shrew are solitary. If kept in captivity, individuals are both territorial and aggressive toward one another. They are generally active both at night and during the day, and they do not hibernate through the winter. One laboratory study found that shrews of this species mutually avoid one another much of the time, but when this does not work active antagonism can occur. They also seem to have no typical social hierarchy.
- Key Behaviors
Communication and Perception
These shrews forage almost exclusively underwater, efficiently preying on aquatic invertebrates such as snails, mollusks, freshwater insects, and also small vertebrates such as fish, amphibians and frogs. Prey are weakened by a poisonous secretion from the submaxillary gland. They generally forage by taking a dive that can last up to 20 seconds. After coming onto land, water shrews quickly run into their burrows and emerge a moment later almost dry, after coming through the tight squeeze of the tunnel where the water is absorbed by the soil. The process is then repeated a few meters away along the stream bank. Water shrews are also known to eat some terrestrial insects as well, such as dipteran larvae.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
These shrews eat the larvae of insects which some humans find bothersome.
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
No negative impacts known.
Quite common within its geographical range.
During dives, air remains trapped between the outer hairs of the thick coat of water shrews. This greatly increases the bouyancy of this shrew. In a laboratory experiment, a few tenths of a mg of the neurotoxic saliva killed a vole very quickly.
Bridget Fahey (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Nowak, R.M. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Grizemek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. McGraw-Hill Publishing Co.