Mammal Identification

Water Shrew Neomys fodiens

Identification features

Photo of a water shrew
  • Narrow pointy snout
  • Black coloured fur on top of body and white/grey underneath
  • Lives near water
  • Stiff white hairs on the margins of the feet and on underside of the tail
  • Teeth have red tips

>Water shrews live near water and can be found on stream banks, rivers, ponds ans drainage ditches as well as reedbeds and fens. It is the only species of British shrew which can swim. They are active at night so are rarely seen.

Other identification features


Water shrews leave black, cylindrical droppings in piles along their runs through vegetation. They often leave remains of their prey, such as cases of caddis fly larvae, on the banks of streams or on stones.


Water shrew skulls rarely appear in owl pellets. Like all Derbyshire species of shrews, they have red tips to their teeth.

Distribution in Derbyshire information

Photo: Derek Whiteley