Water Shrew (Sorex palustris)

There are only a few mammals in Michigan that live exclusively in wetland habitats. One is the tiny (6 inch) water shrew, a black "mouselike" animal with a long tail and large hind feet. These hind feet have a fringe of hairs which assist the shrew in swimming, and even trap air bubbles, allowing them to run over the water's surface. In northern Michigan, the water shrew inhabits swamps, bogs, and wooded stream sides. Little is known about their life history. They are active hunters, ceaselessly seeking insects, spiders, worms, and small aquatic animals as food. They spend much time in the water diving to the bottom, then bobbing to the surface due to air trapped in their fur.