British Wildlife 32.7 June 2021

Vole out of water: a history of terrestrial Water Voles in Britain

Despite their name, it is common for Water Voles to have fossorial lifestyles across mainland Europe. In the UK however, terrestrial Water Voles are a rarer occurrence despite once being more widespread here, as revealed by a search through historical searches. In this article Peter Cooper describes how habitat destruction, changes in land use and direct persecution may have contributed to the loss of fossorial Water Voles in Britain.

In 2008, concerned residents of a Glasgow housing estate reported a ‘rat’ problem in their gardens. The environmental health officers who responded were surprised to find that the rats were in fact Water Voles Arvicola amphibius, cheerily defying expectations by setting up home half a kilometre from the nearest water source.

Natural reflections
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