Wild Fact #132 – I Am…Iron Shrew – Eurasian Water Shrew

Eurasian Water Shrew

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Did You Know?

  • The Eurasian Water Shrew is one of the few venomous mammals on the planet
  • Unfortunately, this venom does not stop this shrew being consumed by both land and water animals
  • Unlike other shrew species, the Eurasian Water Shrew is quite unique in their appearance and habits

What Makes the Eurasian Water Shrew Unique?

For starters, the size of this particular shrew makes them stand out amongst the rest of their family. Normally, the shrew is a small animal, however, our featured shrew typically has a length measuring more than 10 centimetres (4 inches) long, which is quite larges for a shrew. Besides their abnormally large size, their love of water makes this shrew species different from others. Interestingly, the Eurasian Water Shrew has special fur that captures air bubbles, allowing our little mammal to be incredibly buoyant. The only trouble with this air bubbled fur is the fact that they need to be anchored if they ever plan on remaining underwater for any length of time. Personally, I would take the buoyancy control as drowning doesn’t seem like a very nice option to me.

Eurasian Water Shrew

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The Red-Toothed Shrew

As mentioned above, the Eurasian Water Shrew is much like other members of the shrew family in that their saliva is considered to be venomous. While this may be an advantage over smaller prey species, the Water Shrew is unable to pierce the skin of larger animals, such as humans. This is surprising when you consider that the tips of their teeth actually contain iron. ¬†Yes, you read that right, they have extra iron in their teeth, which gives the tip of their teeth a reddish colour. I am guessing this is why these shrews are often referred to as the “Red-Toothed Shrew”.

Lookout Below….and Above

Despite their unusual teeth, venomous saliva and large body size, the Eurasian Water Shrew is constantly on the lookout for predators. Since they spend time on both land and water, they have to deal with hungry predators from both mediums. Yep, this includes fish, otters, birds, weasels and the list goes on and on. This is quite surprising when you learn that the Water Shrew is actually a fierce predator that is known to take down small fish. Imagine how vulnerable they would be if they weren’t fierce, venomous and had iron teeth!

One Response

  1. Lori 8 months ago

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