Belongs to: insectivores

Compare with: common shrew

Water shrew Neomys fodiens

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Largest and most aquatic of our shrews

Habitat: normally close to slow-moving or still water: streams, ponds, ditches

Widespread across Britain and most of Europe


Black upperside with white or greyish-white underparts; body up to 10 cm and tail almost as long again

Leaps up and dives to catch prey under water, staying down for up to 20 seconds

Feeds on insects and their larvae, molluscs, small fish, sometimes frogs and small mammals


Well-made nest of grasses, usually underground in dense cover

Usually 2 litters of 3–10 young

Short-lived – less than 2 years

  • photo

© David Corke