Water Shrew – Neomys fodiens
Black fur on top, silver/grey fur underneath. Larger than other shrew species. Long pointed snout with small ears and tiny eyes. On closer inspection, has fringe of stiff silver hairs on underside of tail. Can be spotted in water, a competent swimmer. Head and body length 6-10cm, tail length 4-8cm.
Common shrew (Sorex araneus)
Smaller than water shrew, with proportionately shorter tail. Dark brown three-tone coat, compared to the black on top and pale (often white) underside of water shrew’s two-tone coat. Less likely to be seen diving and swimming. If you get a closer look: no obvious keel of stiff hairs under tail, as is present in water shrew.
Pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus)
Much smaller than water shrew. Pygmy has a brown coat, unlike water shrew’s coat which is black on top with a pale (often white) underside. Less likely to be seen diving & swimming. If you get a closer look: much hairier tail with no keel of silvery hairs on underside, like water shrew has. Pygmy also has a more domed head.
Mice have proportionately much larger, more prominent eyes and ears than shrews (shrews have tiny eyes). Shrews have a much narrower more pointed muzzle than mice species. Mice have longer tails.
Voles are generally larger than shrews with much more rounded muzzles, shrews have a very pointed narrow muzzle. Voles and shrews both have subtle ears. Shrews have tiny eyes, much smaller than those of voles.