The Water Vole is a small species of semi-aquatic rodent that is found along the riverbanks throughout the UK and Europe. They are similar in appearance to Mice and Rats but have a number of distinctive differences including a flatter snout and a shorter tail. Also known as the European Water Vole, and incorrectly the Water Rat.
Water Voles Diet: Grasses, common reeds, sedges, less frequently rushes in spring and summer; roots, tree bark and fruit in autumn and winter. Very occasionally insects and other invertebrates are eaten.
Water Voles Habitat: Grassy banks along slow moving rivers, ditches, streams, lakes, ponds, canals, as well as marshland and upland. They dig burrows in steep grassy banks, which often include underwater entrances.
Water Voles Habits: Water voles live in colonies but string themselves out along a watercourse. Breeding females have territories of 30-150m and fiercely defend them, while males having larger home ranges of 60-300m that overlap several females. Females mark their territories using discrete latrine sites, close to the burrows and at the boundaries. Latrines are flattened piles of droppings topped with fresh ones.
Water voles are active during the day. They do not hibernate over winter but do spend more time in their burrows, often cohabiting with members of the same colony and so are less visible above ground.
Water Vole Facts:
Scientific Name: Arvicola amphibius
Common Name: Water Vole
Other Names: European Water Vole, Water Rat
Number Of Species: 1
Location: Throughout Europe
Habitat: Banks of slow-moving water
Colour: Brown, Black, Grey
Skin Type: Fur
Size (L): 14cm – 22cm (5.5in – 8.7in)
Weight: 160g – 350g (5.6oz – 12.3oz)
Prey: Aquatic plants, Grasses, Reeds
Predators: Weasels. Owls, Pike
Group Behaviour: Solitary
Water Type: Fresh
Life Span: 0.5 – 2 years
Age Of Sexual Maturity: 2 – 4 months
Gestation Period: 3 weeks
Average Litter Size: 6
Name Of Young: Pup
Age Of Weaning: 4 weeks
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Estimated Population Size: Sustainable
Biggest Threat: Habitat loss
Distinctive Features: Small rounded body and hairy tail
Fun Fact: The largest Vole species in the UK