Mole’s friend Ratty, the misnamed water vole, has faced some serious threats over the last few decades. Water voles are a protected species but sadly these cute creatures are in decline due to habitat loss and predation by American mink.
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales have an exciting new project starting in 2014 to map the distribution of water voles in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. To try to save this much loved species it is important to survey them, to monitor their populations and to work out what needs to be done to improve their chances of survival such as habitat management.
Nia Stephens has just been appointed as Water Vole Officer and will be surveying for water voles from March until October.
Nia said “It is very important we find out where the water voles are so that we can make sure that they and their habitats are protected. If any landowners know of water voles on their land we would be extremely grateful if they could contact us.”
If you would like more information, know of any water vole sites or would like to get involved as a volunteer on the water vole project please email Nia – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
It 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 vole s 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.
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.