The Eurasian Water Shrew known by the brits simply as the Water Shrew is a fairly common rodent. It usually grows to be up to 10 centimeters (4 in) long. Its tail can be up to 75% as long as the shrew itself. The fur of this rodent traps bubbles of air increasing buoyancy to a level where the shrew has to anchor itself in order to have longer dives. The fur is short and dark, often with a couple of white tufts, light belly, and a few stiff hairs around the feet and tail. Eurasian Water Shrews live in close vicinity to fresh water, like rivers or streams, where they can hunt for their prey.
Eurasian Water Shrew hunting in the water
A characteristic that is common for many shrews, but is very rare for mammals in general is also shared by the Eurasian Water Shrew – it’s got venomous saliva. However you do not have to fear this small mouse-like creature, its teeth are not able to puncture a human’s skin. Shrews are very protective of their territory and the Eurasian Water Shrews lead their solitary lives in territories ranging from Ireland to North Korea.
The diet for this small mammal usually consists of small crustaceans, insects, worms and slugs. The Water Shrew sometimes feeds on somewhat larger prey like frogs, small mammals and newts. While on land, the shrew is in constant movement, smelling every hole and gap for food. The shrew digs ground to look for worms or bugs. The shrew acts similarly in water, diving till the bottom and searching for prey. Interestingly, every day the Water Shrews eat as much as they weigh. One of the leading causes of death for shrews is hunger as when they teeth become blunt over years, they are not able to hunt properly.
Water Shrews occasionally live in large groups with several families sharing an area, however most of the time those mammals lead a solitary life, fiercely protecting their territory. In very rare cases massive migrations have been documented with hundreds of specimens going somewhere. The Eurasian shrew usually digs a cave near a bank of a river or a brook. At the end of the cave there usually is a larger room where the shrew sleeps. Sometimes shrews live in caves that have been abandoned by other mammals.
Eurasian Water Shrew scouting the area
After mating the female usually gives birth to five to eight baby shrews. They are born naked, blind and weigh only one gram, however only a month after being born the shrew is completely self-sufficient. A fairly weird characteristic of this species is that females often mate again very soon after giving birth, thus the reproduction rate of these animals is very high.