Water Shrew

Neomys fodiens

  1. Wildlife
  2. Mammals
  3. Water Shrew


The Water Shrew is our largest Shrew. As the name suggests, lives almost entirely in wetland habitats, spending much of its time hunting for invertebrate prey, even swimming underwater to catch caddisfly and mayfly larvae. Although it doesn't have webbed feet, a fringe of stiffer hairs on its back feet and hairs on its tail aid swimming. Water Shrews live in small burrows in the bank.

How to identify

A large shrew with a silky, dark grey or black back and white underside. Large hind feet and the only shrew likely to be seen in the water.

Where to find it

Widespread, found everywhere except for the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The pollution, loss and alteration of our wetland habitats is a massive threat to this species and the animals it preys upon. Working with farmers and landowners to ensure wildlife-friendly practices, The Wildlife Trusts are working towards a Living Landscape: a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Water Shrew
Latin name
Neomys fodiens
Length: up to 9.5cm (plus a tail of up to 8cm) Weight: 12-18g Average lifespan: 1-2 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.