Wednesday, 2 April 2014
We recently moved our two water shrews from off-display to on display in our Hedgerow section. Already they have been settling in well, and many visitors over the weekend managed to get a rare glimpse of these incredible little critters.
Water shrews are the largest of the shrew family in the UK, and unlike other shrews, can live together in small groups. They are very distinctive in their appearance, with an almost piebald appearance. The top half of their body is very dark, while their lower half is almost white... this continues along their tail, with the tufts of white fur on the underside helping to widen the tail and make it useful as a rudder.
The best bit though... They tend to have white tufts on their ears, and white eyebrows. Pretty cool!
As with many other shrews, they have red tipped teeth from the extra iron deposits which help harden the teeth for breaking in to their prey, and they have slightly venomous saliva, which when biting it's prey can help stun and soften it before the shrew starts to eat it. They tend to prey mainly on small invertebrates found near or even in the water, but we feed ours cat food, mealworms and other small invertebrates.
Later this month we hope to gain a few more water shrews from Wildwood in Kent. It would be nice to be able to start a little breeding project at the Centre with them, and to help others with their conservation efforts for these amazing little animals.