Trail is dissappearing on the horizon in german countryside with hills
Through the years I have made quite some images of the European water shrew (Neomys fodiens). I am truly fascinated by this beautiful little animal.
Ecology of the water shrew
As it’s name suggests the water shrew lives near and also in the water. From the river bank it jumps into the water and foraging runs are made under water. It dives for small invertebrates like water insect and als small fish. Just like a miniature otter. Small bristles on its toes and tail work like paddles and a rudder. Its fur traps bubbles of air in the water which greatly aids its buoyancy, but requires it to anchor itself to remain underwater for more than the briefest of dives.
The water shrew is highly territorial. Insect-eating shrews usualy have larger territories then rodents. But the water shrew has an even larger territory then other shrews due to the size of the animal and the linear nature of its habitat (river banks). Territories of 100 metres in length are not unusual.
Habitat of the water shrew
The water shrew is quite picky regarding its habitat. This shrew is on the top of its own food pyramid. And therefore it needs a very healthy aquatic ecosystem. With lots of aquatic plants that provide hiding spots for small animals, where the water shrew feeds on. The water has to be fairly clear to make the growth of aquatic plants possible. On the banks there needs to be coverage in the form of high vegetation. So foraging water shrews won’t be caught easily by owls.
Because of this specific habitat demands the water shrew has always been a fairly rare species. Nowadays water pollution and eutrophication pose a real threat to the water shrew and the species has become increasingly rare. It is placed on the Red List of Threatened Species.
If you need any images of Water shrew just contact me in a reply or email me on rudmer(at)hotmail.com