Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A fantastic find!

A couple of weeks ago a walker found this rodent on the edge of grassland and woodland habitat near to the Little Ouse at Knettishall. We have identified this as a Water Shrew, Neomys fodiens.
The Water Shrew lives in grass or woodland and scrubby habitat near to, and in, wetland and river sytems, and is our largest shrew.They hunt terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and live in small burrows near to water. They are identified by the distinctive difference between their dark upperside and white underside, as well as the fringe of stiff hairs on their back feet and underside of the tail to aid with swimming.

Visible fringe of stiff hairs on tail

Unfortunately this individual was dead, it had possibly been preyed upon, but it is indicative of a possible local population of the species. This is a fantastic species for the reserve and one we haven't had a record for in the past.
Along with recent signs of Water Vole and sightings of Otter along the same stretch of the Little Ouse at Knettishall, these species are good indicators of the improving ecosystem of the river system here.

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