Water voles (Arvicola amphibious) are the largest species of vole in Britain and are sometimes mistaken for brown rats, which can be found in a similar habitat. Water voles have glossy brown or black fur and a blunt muzzle with small, black eyes. Their ears are rounded and almost hidden, and they have a dark, slightly furry tail. They are mostly active during the day but if they are disturbed they dive into the water with a characteristic plop sound. Native and locally common this species is now vulnerable to extinction in the UK.
reasons for their decline
Water voles have undergone one of the most serious declines of any wild mammal in Britain during the 20th century. The intensification of agriculture in the 1940s and 1950s caused the loss and degredation of habitat but the most rapid period of decline was during the 1980s and 1990s as American mink – released from fur farms – spread across the country. Between 1990 and 1998, the population fell by almost 90 per cent.
how we are helping
PTES has been part of the water vole BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) steering group since it started and has funded many local and national projects aiming to conserve this iconic species.
how you can help
If you are a land owner or farmer click for advice on working out your Environmental Stewardship scheme and helping water voles.