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Dieren en planten

Insectivores   Shrew family   Greater white-toothed shrew   Pygmy shrew   Common shrew   European water shrew   

European water shrew


up to 17 centimeters including tail


up to 25 grams


black-gray with white belly on Texel: black


up to 3 years


worms, snails, aquatic animals


walking, swimming, climbing


raptors, predator fish, other shrews


sexual: 1-2 times per year
pregnancy: 14-27 days
number: 3-15 young

  • Dut: waterspitsmuis
  • Eng: (European or northern) water shrew
  • Fre: crossope (musaraigne) aquatique
  • Ger: (Große) Wasserspitzmaus
  • Lat: Neomys fodiens
European water shrew, Ecomare

European water shrew

European water shrews are good at swimming, diving and climbing. They dig tunnels in banks, which is why they live in wet regions with lots of vegetation. In their search for food, they often hang sideways while they turn over stones to find aquatic insects. European water shrews are very noisy animals. They can make whistling sounds, trills and high shrieking and shushing noises. At the same time, they are very shy and can be literally scared to death.

On Texel

Texelse waterspitsmuis, Richard Witte / Photo Endemica

Texel is the only Wadden Island where European water shrews are found. The Texel species is smaller than the one found on the mainland and its fur is totally black. In addition to damp dune slacks and soggy polders, the water shrew also inhabits dryer terrains here. According to mammal experts, it is able to live in such areas because of the lack of competition from other shrews on Texel. However, since 2006 the greater white-toothed shrew has been discovered on Texel... bad news for the water shrews.

  • Adaption

    Water shrews have a water-resistant fur which insulates them by holding air bubbles. This prevents them from cooling down too much when in the water. They are able to keep on course when swimming thanks to a double row of brushy hairs on their tail. These hairs are also located on their hind feet and work as flippers. When they dive under the surface, they close their ears with ear flaps.

  • Day or nocturnal animal

    Water shrews are active during the day as well as at night. They have lots of resting moments in between. In the active periods, they search for food and are constantly moving around. After several minute-long to hour-long activity, they need to rest. They never rest longer than an hour. They crawl into their underground holes for the necessary breaks.

  • Protection

    European water shrews are on the Dutch Red List of threatened mammal species. Their population is declining because there are fewer marshes with lots of vegetation around.