Vole Hunter's Guide


burrow1  burrow2
Burrows: about the same diameter as a Pringles tube.  Water voles dig upwards from below so entrances are tidy, without spoil heaps outside. Grass around the entrance is often clipped short.
latrine1 latrine2
Latrines: droppings are Ti-Tac shaped but slightly larger (8 - 12 mm), and range in colour from olive green to black depending on freshness. Both sexes leave piles of droppings to mark territory, though females make more latrines than males.
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Footprints: similar size to a rat so can be tricky to identify, but there's a starry shape to a water vole's paw as the extreme toes splay out on both sides.
 feedingstation1  feedingstation2
Feeding: look for vegetation consistently cut at a 45 degree angle and left lying in piles. Water voles also make "lawns" by grazing the top of banks, especially near burrows.     
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Trackways: check for tunnel-like paths pushed through long grass, and muddy slipways leading into the water.  These are also prime sites to find droppings.








Water voles are chunky, small-guinea-pig sized mammals who generally like to live near streams and ponds. They are clean-living vegetarians and spend much of their time eating, grooming their silky fur, and swimming about. They are a lot of fun to watch. These animals are currently on the UK’s endangered list because populations have fallen by 95% in the last few decades, so it is very important to report all sightings, and alert landowners and councils to water vole presence.      

Water voles are fully protected by law under Section 36 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.  

Survey Work since 2006 has shown that the Whitchurch - Whixall area continues to be a national hotspot for water voles.Whitchurch lies at the centre of the Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership area.  The Whitchurch Community Water Vole Project is one of the partners and habitat work to help water voles is a key part of the project.



For a water vole population to be secure and be able to expand, the animals have to be able to move along watercourses and between water bodies such as ponds. In winter they form larger groups below ground and then move out to find breeding territories in spring, often travelling several kilometres in the process. This movement promotes a healthy exchange of genes within the population.

Conservation work involves increasing the amount of good quality and  inter-connected habitat in and and around areas where water voles are known to occur. To know where to concentrate one’s efforts, it is necessary to carry out surveys of water vole distribution and habitat quality.