Water voles are a protected species and Britain’s most rapidly declining mammal. They live in ditches, ponds, canals and rivers in urban as well as rural locations.
The water vole is a rodent and the largest of the British voles, weighing between 200 and 350g. It has the typical ‘rotund’ appearance of a vole, i.e. a short, rounded muzzle, small indistinct ears and brownish fur which extends to cover the tail, which is about three-quarters of the body length. Scottish water voles may be black.
Avoid prosecution: It is a criminal offence to ‘intentionally or recklessly’:
❌ Kill, injure or take a water vole.
❌ Damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which water voles use for shelter or protection.
❌ Disturb water voles while they are using such a place.
Look out for: Burrow holes along watercourses, diameter 4-8 cm. If recently occupied, are surrounded by characteristic grazed ‘lawns’.
Droppings the size of a tic-tac, green/brown in colour and odourless. Usually deposited at prominent points along the watercourse, such as patches of bare earth.
Well-worn runs through vegetation.
✔️Immediately STOP work and inform your line manager if you see a water vole or any of the signs listed above.
❌ Proceed with any operations until advice has been sought.