Name: Water Vole
Scientific name: Arvicola terrestris
Nature Stars: 80
About 20cm long, with a tail up to 12cm long. Lives along rivers, streams and ditches, around ponds and lakes and in marshes, reedbeds and areas of wet moorland. Tracks and signs: burrows into the river banks, with a clean burrow entrance often with a nibbled 'lawn' of grass around it. Water Voles like to sit and eat in the same place, so little piles of nibbled grass may be found by the waters edge, alongside 'latrines' of rounded cigar-shaped droppings. 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 Water Voles is now a protected species under UK law.
Read more about the water vole on its Feature Creature page.
How to identify: Much bigger than the other voles. Told from the larger Brown Rat by the more chestnuty-brown fur, rounded nose and 'cute' face, small rounded ears and the furry tail.
Where: Widespread, found everywhere except for the Channel Island, the Isles of Scilly, Scottish islands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man
Fantastic fact: The Water Vole is famous as 'Ratty' in the Wind in the Willows.
Photograph credit: Tom Marshall