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Water Voles



Water voles are typically associated with clean, slow flowing or still waters with an abundance of marginal vegetation and steep, muddy banks into which they can burrow. Water voles eat roots, shoots and grasses among other things and are particularly keen of yellow iris and tubers. They are prone to habitat degradation and the release of the American mink has had a catastrophic impact on their population numbers.




Water voles are secretive animals and direct observations are made difficult due to their secretive lifestyle. Surveys are best conducted by searching for characteristic field signs along suitable habitat i.e. steep river banks with lush herbaceous vegetation and clean, stable water levels. The most useful characteristic field signs include:


  • Footprints

  • Droppings

  • Burrows


Extra field signs may include the following, however these cannot always be relied upon.


  • Grazed 'lawns'

  • Nests

  • Runways

  • Feeding stations

  • Latrines


Aether Ecology conduct water vole surveys which can be combined with other protected species surveys including otters, badgers and birds. Contact us if you require a water vole survey.




We provide mitigation advice with regards to development licence applications. Please contact us if you require further information and we will be happy to help.




Water voles are safeguarded by both National and European laws including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation Regulations 1994 as transposed from the Habitats Directive 1992. It is illegal to intentionally injure, kill, take, possess or sell or to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy, disturb or obstruct a place used for shelter.


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