The water shrew’s body is about 8 centimetres long and its tail 6 centimetres. Its short fur is dark grey to blackish above and silvery grey to whitish below. It has distinctive stiff white hairs around its feet and tail.
Shrews live mainly in wetlands up to elevations of 2,700 metres throughout Europe and temperate Asia.
The water shrew is a solitary animal and is active both day and night. It swims and dives well and feeds on various water insects, snails and small amphibians. Its fur traps bubbles of air, which help it to float. It has poisonous saliva.