Water vole, a declining native mammal of UK has rat-like in appearance. It has a round face and a short tail and a blunt nose. It is found near ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. The male species of this habitat have a head and body of 20cm with a 12cm tail. The females are found to be slight smaller.
Their lifespan is considered to be of around 5 months but it can last till 5 years if in internment. Their food consists of grass, fallen fruits, twigs and waterside plants. Considered as an active creature, they are found to be busy throughout the day and night. They spend most of their time in eating and are found moving in grasses and sedges. They are good swimmers and are found paddling with four legs.
The breeding of this creature mostly begins in March and carries till early winter. But it is completely dependent on the weather. They built a nest made of woven grass stems and after the gestation period the female gives birth to five-eight babies. Ecology consultant says that the babies of water vole are blind and naked when born. Moreover babies are blind and naked at birth and are just of around 5 gm.
But today, these species are in scarce. It is said that in 1990 UK had more than seven million water voles but by 1998 it reached to even less than million and since then the numbers has decreased. Since 6th April 2008 killing water vole intentionally has become illegal. Ecology consultant and other Wildlife Trusts are working hard to make sure that these water voles survive.
Here are a few facts disclosed for water voles:
(1) Daily they eat 80% of their body weight
(2) Since 1990 there has been about 90% decrease in population
(3) They survive by eating more than 150 different species of plant
(4) For a male water vole 170 meters of river bank is the average territory
(5) Females produce up to three-four litters per year
(6) They are found on altitudes of over 900m
(7) In Cornwall they are found in extinct
(8) They are found in Urban and Rural areas
(9) When on surface they can swim up to 500m
(10) Underwater they can swim up to 15m
(11) They are mostly found living in small family groups.
(12) They are great in swimming and diving especially when chased by an enemy
(13) For Europeans they are pest and Russians hunt them
(14) They are difficult to handle and can bite severely
(15) They are vegetarians
(16) They are smaller than rats
(17) They are mostly found near edges of water
(18) Their ears are rarely visible
Recent studies indicate that in Britain water voles are on a decline. Pollution and deprivation of habitat are considered to have contributed in the decline of water vole. Even climate can have a worst impact on them. Harsh winters and dry summers can also cause a decline in population. Extended winter flooding can also be unfavorable to water voles.