The Water Vole

What a gorgeous creature. Spotted on my first Fen Raft Spider survey by our guiding light Ellen, here it was feeding on frogbit, an aquatic plant that looks like miniature lily-leaves. Its name means “frog bite” for reasons that are not clear to me or an eminent aquatic botanist I asked. Its Latin name reflects its meaning:¬†Hydrocharis morsus-ranae. Morsus = bite, ranae = of a frog. Answers on a postcard please!

This is a European water vole, now a threatened species in this country. Its population has declined by over 90% since the 1960s, largely thanks to a spreading population of the foreign invading predatory American mink but also due to farming and watercourse practices. It’s been protected by the UK government since 2008. Curiously in France, farmers are campaigning against the water vole, which they say is causing crop damage.

SWT is doing its bit for water voles by trapping and destroying mink and creating new wetlands and habitat for them,

Here are some pics of the ravishing rodent

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and a video clip. Apologies to wildlife cameramen everywhere for the quality. This was strictly very impromptu amateur photography on a windy day with no monopod or tripod.

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