Swimming Water Vole

Swimming Water Vole. A Water Vole (Arvicola amphibius) swimming along a peaty upland stream. South Yorkshire, Peak District National Park. 

Swimming Water Vole – About Water Voles

Water voles are the largest and most famous of all the native British voles. Immortalised as ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, water voles are highly specialised to life on the waterways. Their dense fur traps pockets of air when swimming underwater providing great insulation and they also possess extra flaps of skin in their ear that prevents any water from entering the ear canal. Water voles are voracious eaters, consuming up to 80% of their body weight each day.

Water voles are charming little creatures that are native to the UK and other parts of Europe. Also known as the water rat or river vole, these furry little rodents are often found near rivers, streams, and other bodies of water.

Water voles are well adapted to life in the water. They have thick, waterproof fur that helps keep them warm and dry, and their short, furry tails serve as rudders when swimming. They also have large, webbed feet that make them strong swimmers, allowing them to quickly escape from predators like foxes, owls, and herons.

Despite their ability to swim, water voles spend much of their time on land, where they construct elaborate burrow systems. These burrows provide shelter from the elements and also serve as nesting sites for their young.

Water voles are herbivores, feeding on a variety of vegetation including grasses, roots, and bark. They are particularly fond of water plants like watercress, which grow abundantly in their aquatic habitats.

Unfortunately Water Vole populations have declined by 90% in the UK over the last 40 years. This steep decline is largely due to American Mink predation, poor water quality and habitat loss and degradation. The destruction of wetland habitats, pollution of waterways, and the construction of dams and other water management structures have all contributed to declines in water vole populations.

Efforts are underway to protect and conserve water voles, including the creation of new wetland habitats and the implementation of measures to reduce pollution and improve water quality. These efforts are crucial to ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the sight of these delightful little rodents in their natural habitat.

You can find more about water voles here.

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Swimming Water Vole. A Water Vole (Arvicola amphibius) swimming along a peaty upland stream. South Yorkshire, Peak District National Park. 


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