American water shrew

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American water shrew[1]
Exhibit Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor - IMG 9035.JPG
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Soricomorpha
Family: Soricidae
Genus: Sorex
Species: S. palustris
Binomial name
Sorex palustris
Richardson, 1828
Distribution of the American Water Shrew in Northern America

The American water shrew (Sorex palustris) or northern water shrew, is a large North American shrew found in aquatic habitats. Some sources include the Glacier Bay water shrew, S. alaskanus, within this species.

This animal is dark grey in colour with lighter underparts with a long tail. Air bubbles are trapped in the thick fur when the animal dives underwater. Its feet have a fringe of hairs, more visible on the larger hind feet, which allow this animal to run on the water's surface. Its total body length is about 15 cm with a tail length of 8 cm. Average weight is about 13 g.

This animal is found near streams and lakes along the Rocky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains, across Canada, and the midwestern United States.

It swims well and makes short dives in search of food. Its diet includes aquatic insects, small fish, tadpoles, slugs and snails. It is thought to use echolocation to help find prey. Predators include hawks, owls, snakes, mustelids and large fish.

This animal is active during the day but are more active at night. It is generally solitary and territorial except during mating. The female has 2 to 3 litters of 5 to 7 young in a nest in a tunnel or under a log. Water shrews typically live about 18 months.


The American water shrew has nine subspecies:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hutterer, R. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Whittaker, J.C., Hammerson, G. & Norris, S.J. (2008). "Sorex palustris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 February 2010.