Malayan Water Shrew
(Chimarrogale hantu)
The Malayan water shrew is a relatively large shrew, which inhabits streams in mountain forests. It possesses a number of adaptations to its semi-aquatic lifestyle, including waterproof fur, ear flaps to seal the ear openings when submerged, and stiff hairs on the feet which help to propel it through the water. The species is confined to a very limited area that is under pressure from human encroachment. It is threatened by deforestation and pollution, and is sometimes caught in fish traps.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Surveys to assess status and distribution, and production of management guidelines for the species and its habitat.
Peninsula Malaysia.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Soricomorpha
Family: Soricidae
Shrews are a highly successful group of insectivores, comprising the third most speciose mammal family (Soricidae). They occur throughout most of the world, with the exception of Australasia and much of South America. They are often portrayed as “primitive” animals; indeed, the earliest mammals are often portrayed as shrew-like. However, soricids are a relatively modern group. The earliest shrew fossils have been found in North America from the middle Eocene (45 million years ago). They are known from Asia and Europe from the early Oligocene (34 million years ago), and in Africa from the middle Miocene (14 million years ago). The Soricidae is divided into two sub-families: the Crocidurinae (white-toothed shrews) and the Soricinae (red-toothed shrews). Red-toothed shrews are so-called because their teeth have a reddish appearance because of a deposition of iron in the outer layer of enamel, which may increase resistance to wear. The genus Chimarrogale belongs to the Soricinae, and is thought to have diverged from other shrews during the Miocene (7-26 million years ago). The closest relative of C. hantu is thought to be the Bornean water shrew (C. phaeura). There are four other species in the genus.
Head and body length: 80-130 mm
Tail length: 60-101 mm
Weight: 30 g
This relatively large shrew has a coat of short dense fur which is coloured dark grey above, sometimes with a brownish tinge, and pale grey or white below. There is a scattering of silver tipped hairs throughout the coat. The tail is a dark brown colour, sometimes paler underneath. Like other shrews the Malayan water shrew has a long snout, small eyes and ears, short legs and a long tail in relation to its body length. The species has a number of modifications to a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Its fur is relatively waterproof and there is a flap of skin which seals the ear openings when submerged. The feet are fringed with stiff hairs which help to propel the animal through the water.
A solitary species which is thought to be active for short periods throughout the day and night. The species is apparently able to swim well underwater. The diet consists of insects, aquatic larvae, crustaceans and possibly small fish. Entrances to water shrew burrows are usually underwater.
Inhabits streams in mountain forests, at altitudes up to 3,300 m.
The species is only known from the Ulu Langat Forest Reserve in Selangor on the Malay Peninsula.
Population Estimate
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR B1+2c) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The species is confined to a very limited area that is under pressure from human encroachment. It is threatened by deforestation and pollution, and is sometimes caught in fish traps.
Conservation Underway
There are no specific conservation measures in place. In 2005 Ulu Langat Forest Reserve was declared part of a State Heritage Park which will be managed by the newly set-up State Park Corporation. Although legal logging still occurs on the boundaries of reserve, it is hoped that current work to demarcate its boundaries will prevent further encroachment.
Conservation Proposed
The IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group recommends that this species be the subject of an immediate investigation. Field surveys should be carried out to assess the distribution of the species both within the reserve and elsewhere in the region. The results of these surveys should be used to prepare subsequent management recommendations for both the species and its habitat.
Animal Info. (Oct 2005).

Insectivore Specialist Group. 1996. Chimarrogale hantu. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 09 August 2006.

Harrison, J. L. 1958. Chimarrogale hantu a new water shrew from the Malay Peninsular, with a note on the genera Chimarrogale and Crossigale (Insectivora, Soricidae). In Annals and Magazine of Natural History, ser. 13(1): 282-290.

Nowak, R. M. 1999. Walker’s Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore and London.

Stone, D. (Compiler). 1996. Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews: Status, Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switerzland.

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

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