Water Vole

Arvicola amphibius

  1. Wildlife
  2. Mammals
  3. Water Vole

About

Lives along rivers, streams and ditches, around ponds and lakes and in marshes, reedbeds and areas of wet moorland. Look out for the signs of Water Voles such as 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 piles of nibbled grass and stems may be found by the water's edge, showing a distinctive 45° angled-cut at the ends. 'Latrines' of rounded, cigar-shaped droppings may also be spotted.

How to identify

Much bigger than other voles. Distinguished from the larger Brown Rat by its chestnut-brown fur, rounded nose, small, rounded ears that do not protrude from the fur and furry tail.

Where to find it

Widespread, found everywhere except for the Channel Island, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The Water Vole is Britain's fastest declining wild mammal and has disappeared from many parts of the country where it was once common. It is threatened by habitat loss, but has suffered particularly from predation by the introduced American Mink. The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to save the Water Vole by improving riverbank habitats, controlling Mink and being involved in Water Vole reintroduction schemes. Volunteers are needed to help with everything from monitoring populations to riverbank restoration. So why not have a go at volunteering for your local Trust? You'll make new friends, learn new skills and help wildlife along the way.

Local information

Over the last 10 years water voles nationally have declined by a staggering 90%. Once common in Worcestershire, they are now only recorded in Bromsgrove District. Present populations are small and fragmented and therefore prone to extinction.

To save the water vole from extinction in Worcestershire action is urgently needed. Conservation action focuses on two main issues. Firstly, habitat needs to be created, restored and managed appropriately to enable re-connection of isolated populations. Secondly, a control programme is being implemented to reduce the threat posed by mink. Worcestershire Wildlife Trust (WWT), Bromsgrove District Council (BDC) and British Waterways (BW) are working together to safeguard the populations of water voles in the Bromsgrove District and encourage them to re-colonise sites such as Upton Warren nature reserve.

Water voles were present until a few years ago and a remnant population survives further upstream and along the canal. Landowners living along the River Salwarpe and its tributaries who are keen to conserve water voles should contact the Trust.

Please report any sightings.
 

Species information

Common name
Water Vole
Latin name
Arvicola amphibius
Category
Mammals
Statistics
Length: 20cm plus a tail of 11cm Weight: 80-180g Average lifespan: 1.5 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.