Sumatran Water Shrew, Sumatra Water Shrew
(Chimarrogale sumatrana)
This poorly known water shrew is known only from a single specimen. It is related to the Malayan and Bornean water shrews and, like them, is well adapted to its aquatic lifestyle. The species probably occurs in and near streams in tropical forests, and is believed to be severely threatened by habitat loss. It is restricted to a very limited area that is declining because of human encroachment.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Surveys to determine status, distribution and ecological requirements. Habitat protection a priority for areas in which the species occurs.
Indonesia (western Sumatra).
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 taxonomic status of the Sumatran water shrew is uncertain. Some authorities consider it to be a full species, while others consider it to be a subspecies of Chimarrogale phaeura (the Bornean water shrew).
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 a uniform sooty grey colour above, interspersed with longer white-tipped hairs, and dull-brown below. The tail is dark brown. Like other shrews the Sumatran 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.
Occurs in and near streams in tropical forest.
Known only from the Padang Highlands, West Sumatra, Indonesia.
Population Estimate
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR B1+2c) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The species is believed to be severely threatened by habitat loss. It is restricted to a very limited area that is declining because of human encroachment.
Conservation Underway
There are no conservation measures in place.
Conservation Proposed
The IUCN/SSC Insectivore, Tree Shrew and Elephant Shrew Specialist Group regards this species as a high priority for conservation attention. It recommends field surveys be carried out in the Padang highlands to confirm its presence, and to obtain basic information on its distribution and ecological requirements. Once the species has been located, habitat protection is likely to be a major priority.
Animal Info. (Oct 2005).

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

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

Olfield, T. On a new genus and species of shrew, and some new Muridae from the East-Indian Achipelago. In Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Ser. 9(7): 244.

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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