You’ll be very lucky to see one but we have to include this delightful animal!
The water vole – charming ‘Ratty’ in The Wind in Willows – 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. Water voles 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 degree, angled-cut at the ends. ‘Latrines’ of rounded, cigar-shaped droppings may also be spotted.
Water voles start to breed in spring, having three to four litters a year of up to five young and they can be seen all year round.
These lovely creatures are under serious threat – partly from lack of habitat – and listed as an endangered species. As part of our partnership project, Sparkling Streams, we undertook habitat restoration of the Kennet and its tributaries and also conducted a number of vole surveys. We are hopeful that in the coming years we will see the benefits of that work and water voles will become more abundant in the AONB.