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Water Shrew Sorex palustris


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Water Shrew
credit: Robin M. /CCSA

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Family: Soricidae, Shrews view all from this family

Description Large shrew with black or grayish back. The long (>18mm) hind feet have fringes of stiff hairs. The subspecies from Glacier Bay, Alaska (S. p. alaskanus) is sometimes considered a full species based on their smaller size and more ridged skull; recent efforts to study this subspecies have not turned up any water shrew populations.

Dimensions 130-170mm, 57-89mm, 8-18g

Habitat Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Alpine & subalpine habitats, Forests & woodlands

Range Plains, Great Lakes, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, California, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska

Discussion Capable of skipping across surface of water by taking advantage of the bubbles trapped in the hairs on its feet, or diving to stream bottoms in search of food. Can be common along fast flowing streams, less common in slower moving rivers and lakes. Found throughout boreal forests in the north of its range, restricted to montane areas in the south.