Water Vole - Arvicola amphibius

Alternative names
Formerly Arvicola terrestris

Water Voles have a short hair-covered tail, a blunt, rounded nose, and a small chubby face with small ears. They have a rich chestnut-brown coat, but individuals in Scotland often have black fur. The fur traps air that provides thermal insulation when swimming, and they also possess flaps of skin in the ear that prevent water from entering.

Similar Species

Brown rat

Identification difficulty
Recording advice

When looking for field signs try to record more than one - a combination of droppings or latrines, burrows and chewed vegetation will help to confirm presence.  Foot prints are hard to tell apart from Rat prints.


Densely vegetated banks of slow flowing rivers, ditches, lakes and marshes where water is present throughout the year.

When to see it

All Year Round

Life History

Water voles are herbivores, feeding on a huge variety of waterside vegetation and consuming 80 percent of their body weight each day. Each year between April and September, one to five litters consisting of three to seven blind, naked pups can be produced.

UK Status

Rapid decline over decades has made the Water Vole much scarcer in Britain than previously.

VC55 Status

Uncommon in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Water Vole, Water Rat, European Water Vole
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
21/04/1981 (Patricia Evans)
Last record:
14/05/2023 (Gerstner, Helen)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

The latest images and records displayed below include those awaiting verification checks so we cannot guarantee that every identification is correct. Once accepted, the record displays a green tick.

In the Latest Records section, click on the header to sort A-Z, and again to sort Z-A. Use the header boxes to filter the list.

Latest images

Latest records