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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Soricomorpha · Soricidae · Sorex palustris

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Sorex palustris

American Water Shrew

Order: Soricomorpha
Family: Soricidae

Image of Sorex palustris
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.

American Water Shrews are almost invariably found near streams or other bodies of water, where they find food and also escape from predators. These shrews readily dive to stream bottoms, paddling furiously to keep from bobbing to the surface—their fur, full of trapped air, makes them buoyant. They feed on aquatic invertebrates, insect larvae, and even small fish. In the water they are susceptible to predation from larger fish and snakes. On land, American Water Shrews have a more typical shrew diet, feeding on a variety of invertebrates, including earthworms, snails, and insects. They also eat fungi and green vegetation.

Also known as:

Northern Water Shrew, Water Shrew

Sexual Dimorphism:

Males average slightly heavier and longer than females.


Average: 151.4 mm
Range: 130-170 mm


Average: 13.8 g
Range: 8-18 g


Richardson, J., 1828.  Short characters of a few quadrupeds procured on Capt. Franklin’s late expedition, p. 517.  The Zoological Journal, 3:516-520.


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Distribution of Sorex palustris

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