Ten water vole facts

Here are some fascinating facts about water voles:

  • Water vole populations have fallen by 90% since 1970.
  • Before 2000, mink regularly escaped or were released from Britain’s fur farms and water voles became the minks’ favoured prey. Nowadays, the main threat to the voles is the drainage of natural wetlands and the agricultural and urban development of river banks.
  • Water voles eat over 200 different species of plant; reeds, horsetail and sedges are some of their favourite snacks.
  • They also eat the bark of willow, hawthorn, and crab apple trees; they have been spotted as high as 2.5 metres up a tree.
  • They have to eat 80% of their body weight (60 -360g) a day to survive.
  • Water voles dig with their teeth which are coated with hard orange enamel.
  • Overwinter, water voles go underground and maintain energy levels by sleeping more. They plug some of their burrow entrances with a mixture of mud and vegetation to help keep heat in and they create chambers for food scraps and excrement that will compost and generate heat. Central heating!
  • In the winter they dig up and store tubers, bulbs and rhizomes. One farmer uncovered a hundredweight of potatoes cached in a ditch by water voles.
  • Water voles usually live a maximum of two winters.
  • They can raise two litters each year with up to five offspring in each brood.

More fascinating facts here:

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