Water voles dig burrows that are connected to water sources, and are considered a semi-aquatic species. Your neighbourly help will enable them to survive, as they have now declined by 95% across the UK, partly due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and predation by the non-native American mink. (2014, March 25). If a water vole has a plentiful supply of food, its population will increase rapidly. There’s more information about their fascinating life and behaviour in The Water Vole’s Year. Males tend to be larger than females. Northwestern Naturalist, 90(1), 1-16. In areas of light or moderate grazing not as many young survived, and the population sizes tended to be much smaller than other colonies.  Evidence shows that although they may still be nesting with their mother, she provides very minimal parental care after weaning. A water vole will even inhabit a ditch with slow flowing water, whether it is on a farm, land that you own, a school, college, industrial or housing estate. There is no evidence that they store food for the winter. Females give birth and care for her young in these underground nests, lined with leaves and grass. Their fur is grey-brown, dark brown, or reddish-brown on the upperparts, and is grayish-white on their underside. The habitat preference varies based on the species, but many avoid densely forested regions.  Burrows are normally located adjacent to slow moving, calm water which they seem to prefer. Approximately 26% of young males and females begin to reproduce during the breeding season of their birth, but overwintered adults are responsible for most of the reproduction. This long-term decline has continued in the last 10 years. Water Voles (Arvicola amphibius) are one of the UK’s most endearing and charismatic mammals, immortalised in British culture in famous tales such as The Wind and Willows (yes Ratty was indeed a water vole).Water voles hold a special place in British hearts, however are sadly the UK’s fastest declining wild mammal and without proactive conservation measures they’ll likely be lost forever. 5-6 young, with a minimum gestation period of 22 days.  The presence of livestock presents numerous detrimental changes to the water vole's habitat: altered abiotic characteristics, compacted soil, increased runoff, fractured stream banks, erosion, as well as loss of vegetation as protective cover and a food source. Incorporate water vole conservation into relevant habitat policies and agri-environment schemes: Ensure that development schemes do not affect the integrity of water vole populations. 7 to 8 months of the year). , Water voles are usually found within 5 to 10 m from waterways. They also live in reed beds where they will weave ball shaped nests above ground if no suitable banks exist in which to burrow. You do not have to introduce any plants, as they have been recorded eating 227 species. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from, Ludwig, D. (1988). Their food source varies significantly depending on geographic location.  Among overwintered adults, 90% of females and 100% of males are reproductively active. Litter size tends to increase with age of the mother, and ranges from 2-10 young.  Although water voles appear to have the ability to reproduce in large numbers, as do many other rodents, their population densities are actually kept very low and live in colonies of 8-40 individuals. Where there was severe grazing it affected the stream bank to an extent that it was no longer a suitable habitat. Vole originated from the Norwegian word vollmus; voll, meaning field, and mus, meaning mouse. They will need at least two metres (ideally five metres) of uncut bank-side vegetation until the end of the breeding season. There are few habitats that voles cannot survive in. Their large hind feet help make them excellent swimmers, and they are found in alpine or semi-alpine meadows near water. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from, Vole. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from, North American Mammals: Microtus richardsoni. Schedule 5 of this Act makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place that a water vole uses for shelter or protection. One of the main reasons for their disappearance is habitat damage. Some adult females may have up to two litters during one breeding season. Microtus richardsoni. It is easy to provide a home for water voles, so that populations can thrive or expand and move into your waterway, pond or lake. (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981). The Status, Habitat, and Response to Grazing of Water Vole Populations in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, U.S.A. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 35(1), 100-109. This is vital, as a water vole needs to consume the equivalent of 80% of its body weight in food each day and a breeding female double that amount. This animal has been historically considered a member of genus Arvicola, but molecular evidence demonstrates that it is more closely related to North American Microtus species. They form a polygynous social group, in which females tend to stay within their territory, which does not overlap other females, and males travel between burrows to reproduce with several females. Because of this system, males travel over a much larger home range than females, and they tend to be more aggressive than females, with aggressiveness coinciding with breeding patterns. Our report published in 2017 revealed that between 2006-2015, water vole distribution declined dramatically. It is worth bearing in mind that some solitary bees overwinter in the hollow stems of bramble, so when any management is undertaken it is best to leave the cuttings in a pile in an area which will not flood (if possible). Metapopulation Biology: Microtus richardsoni in the Rocky Mountain Front Range of Alberta. , The word vole originated in approximately 1805, and is short for vole-mouse, which means field mouse. The water vole's large incisors, combined with its very large skull and well developed zygomatic arch (which strong chewing muscles attach to), contribute to its ability to efficiently dig tunnels and chew through tough roots. Although this animal has been historically considered a member of genus Arvicola, molecular evidence demonstrates that it is more closely related to North American Microtus species. , Their main source of food is vegetation, including leaves, stems, grasses, sedges, willows, and sometimes seeds or insects. Klaus, M., Moore, R., & Vyse, E. (2001, July). Their burrows often have entrances at the water's edge or under water, and they usually live in colonies of 8-40 individuals along the waterway.  Because water voles live in such small isolated patches it is necessary for them to form such a metapopulation structure, in which dispersal can balance out local extinction. The National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project is the only project of its kind in the UK. The water vole is the second largest arvicoline in its range (after the muskrat). Retrieved March 21, 2015, from JSTOR. Description: Rat-sized with blunt nose; dark chestnut-brown to black fur; short rounded ears; hair-covered tail, which is about half length of head and body. Habitat/Region. "Molecular systematics of a Holarctic rodent (, 10.1644/1545-1542(2000)081<0344:MSOAHR>2.0.CO;2, http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info.cfm?species_id=176, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Water_vole_(North_America)&oldid=984080828, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from November 2017, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 18 October 2020, at 01:40. They depend on our not cutting their banks to ground-level between March and the end of September at earliest, or removing native plants through gardening the banks and leaving bare earth, which removes their food and cover thereby making them easy prey for their many predators. They construct these tunnels and nests just below the roots of the vegetation (about 4–6 cm below ground) during the breeding season (June through late September). Water voles Arvicola amphibius, a rapidly declining species in the UK, have recently been recorded in isolated grassland habitats in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city (human population 1.2 million).
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