Bookmark and Share

How to Find a Water Vole

Identify It >   Mammals Section >   Water Voles >   How to Find a Water Vole >

Often the first (and last) indication you get is the loud "plop" sound they make as they hit the water and vanish into the distance.  Of course once you know where water voles can be found, watching them can be surprisingly easy.  But first you have to find them.  Here are a few pointers to help you locate the shy and secretive water vole.

Water voles are only active during the day (or night) for a few hours at a time, but May is a good time to catch a glimpse of them.  They mate in early spring, and the first litters are born in an underground nest in April.  Within a month the mothers could be pregnant again, so the first litters will be out looking for territories of their own.

The youngsters are not as street-wise, or river-wise, as the adults, so this can give you an advantage.  Although they've got sensitive hearing, they have poor eyesight, so they'll carry on with their routines provided you remain still and quiet as you watch them.

The water vole burrows are quite distinctive.  They're usually right beside an area of water with an entrance hole of around 5 - 8cm in diameter.  The vegetation around the entrance hole is often nibbled to the ground, and there's frequently one well worn track leading away from the entrance hole.  This often follows the edge of the water.

From spring through to autumn water voles leave their droppings piled up.  Little heaps of up to 100 poops can be found at the water's edge.  These are between 6 and 10mm long, and rounded at both ends.  They are greenish in colour and you can sometimes notice the plant material they've been feeding on.

Related Pages

free newsletter