The enigma of the water shrew

Water shrews are mysterious creatures
Water shrews are mysterious creatures

By George Hogg

Hogg Estate Services

Water shrew tend to be very rarely seen. Known to live alongside waterways and to do much of their feeding underwater, they are a mysterious animal indeed.

Small invertebrates make up most of their diet as is the case with all our species of shrew.

Water shrew saliva is toxic and is injected into prey via grooves in the teeth. Perhaps this toxin is why they seem to be unpalatable to predators, so that any dead water shrew you find, seems to have been killed but not eaten.

Mind you, the predator may sometimes be another shrew as these animals are famously intolerant of one another. One of my camera traps records water shrew most weeks. This would not be unusual, but the camera is not near water.

Scientific literature states young water shrew may be found away from water during the cross-country dispersal of youngsters.

However, my own findings suggest there is more to it than that.

I suspect some water shrew may not live near water at all, or may at best be itinerant between water courses.

Frustratingly there is much we still have to discover about even our most common wildlife.

To any budding naturalist I can confidently state, there is a great deal still to be discovered about our wildlife.

Enquiring and innovative young minds will find detailed study tends to provide questions rather than answers.

Give it a try. However, try to start with something a little less elusive than the enigmatic water shrew!