Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Insectivora
Family Soricidae
Genus Neomys
Species fodiens
Classification Pennant, 1771
Common name water shrew
Size 67 - 96 millimeters. Tail 45 - 77 millimeters
Male weight 12 - 18 grams

Geographic Range Europe, West Siberia, Northern Lesser Asia, Pacific Siberian coast, North Korea.
Physical Characteristics it has short, thick, dark hair; the lower part is white, yellowish or grey. The colour of the dorsal or ventral part is clearly marked. It can have a white tuft on ears or around eyes. Along ventral surface of the tail and on the paws there is a fringe of bristles that is probably employed as an aid to swim. The teeth have a reddish point. Its muzzle is sharp, ears and eyes are small.
Behaviour it lives in lairs and goes out to feed, hunting and even diving under water. The sub maxillary gland secretes a toxin that dazes the prey. Men can suffer from the effects of this toxin: the bite of the water shrew causes reddening and irritation of the area. It doesn't go into hibernation, it is active all year round. It dives in winter too in order to look for food, thanks to its thick fur that isolates it effectively from cold and water. It often cleans its fur scratching and leaking it to keep it in good impermeability conditions. It is usually solitary, each water shrew keeps its own territory, even if they often live near, most of all if they are in a favourable territory with good food availability. Main predators are owls or other birds, but some predators find disgusting the smell produced by the sub maxillary glands with which the water shrew usually marks its territory.
Habitat it lives near the water, including banks of streams, rivers, ponds, beds of reeds. It prefers clean and free soft waters.
Food habits water invertebrates, slugs, soft water insects, small fishes, frogs, amphibians, ground insects.
Reproduction it reproduces during summer; the female has two or three litters, each made of 3-10 young. The young are born after 80 days of pregnancy in a nest made of dry grass, usually built inside a lair. The young are suckled for a month. After reproduction adults die and the young, after passed the winter, become sexually mature the following spring, ready to reproduce in the spring after their birth. They live maximum for 19 months.

References The Mammal Society
Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology
Web References http://www.abdn.ac.uk/mammal/
Source of the photo www.bio.davidson.edu/Courses/anphys/ 1999/Rachal/rachal2.htm

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