Often mistaken for the mouse, the shrew is much smaller, measuring only about 10 cms. in length. It has a pointed nose, small eyes and a slender body. It is quite a solitary animal.
It belongs to the Soricidae family, which includes over 200 species of shrew, about a dozen of which live in Europe. The common shrew (Sorex araneus) is the one most seen in gardens and close to houses.
The water shrew (Neomys fodiens) can be seen beside water and can swim very well.
It is not a rodent. It is a insect-eating mammal which attacks only insects, invertebrates and garden vegetables ! It can be seen around compost, where it finds many slugs, worms and caterpillars. It devours the equivalent of its weight of insects every day.
It has a characteristically sharp cry.
To allow them to install themselves in your garden, build a little shelter near the compost heap. They will hibernate here in winter and will raise their family here in spring.