The water vole is Britain's fastest declining mammal.
Water voles are found near rivers, canals, streams and in the case above - mill ponds....
They have an average life span of only 2 years.
Although sometimes mistaken for rats they have a blunter nose, a rounded face and small tail and ears.
They feed mainly on grasses, waterside plants, buds, fruits and bulbs etc.
They excavate a burrow system with the entrance usually around water level.
Predators include Owl, Heron, Pike, Otter and mink.
Breeding takes place from March and a female is pregnant for 3 weeks. She can have approx. 8 young weighing, 5 grammes each.
They have a small flap of skin inside each ear which closes of the ear when the vole drops beneath the water.
They are usually very shy and hard to find, often the only indication is a 'plop' as they drop into the water.
The above picture was taken at the mill pond at the village of Cheddar in Somerset where the voles are relatively at ease with the locals.
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