Posted 8th Mar 2018
The endangered Water Vole lives along our rivers, streams and ditches, and can be found around ponds, lakes and in marshes, reedbeds and areas of wet moorland
Keep an eye out for signs of Water Voles - this includes burrows in the riverbank, often with a nibbled 'lawn' of grass around the entrance. Water Voles like to sit and eat in the same place, so you can expect to find piles of nibbled grass and stems which can be found by the water's edge, showing distinctive 45 degrees angled-cut at the ends. You'll notice 'latrines' of rounded, cigar-shaped droppings too.
Water Voles are much bigger than other voles, and are distinguished from the larger Brown Rat by its chestnut-brown fur, rounded nose, small, rounded ears that do not protrude from the fur, and a furry tail.
They can be found across the country, except for the Channel Island, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Despite this, they're the country's fastest declining wild mammal, and have been found to have disappeared from many parts of the country where it was once a common sight. As such, it's protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and is viewed as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It's threatened by habitat loss but has especially suffered from predation by the introduction of the American Mink. The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to save the Water Vole by improving riverbank habitats, controlling Mink populations, and participating in Water Vole reintroduction schemes. Volunteers are required to help with everything from monitoring populations to riverbank restoration.
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of Tom Marshall