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European water vole (Arvicola terrestris)


The European water vole occurs in both aquatic and terrestrial forms and can move by running, swimming and diving. The form that lives in the earth builds extensive underground tunnel systems and throws up piles of soil. The animals have a plump body 12 to 22 cm long with a large thickset head and ears hidden in the coat. The tail is relatively short about half the length of the body. The coat is coloured grey-brown to brown-black on the upper side, lighter on the underside. The females bear 2 to 4 litters averaging 4 young each per year. Their diet consists of purely vegetable foods sought mainly underground.


European water voles cause damage in cereal grains, vegetables, tree nurseries, fruit orchards and forests. Significant damage results from feeding on roots, tubers and bulbs. Damage can be particularly serious in forests and fruit orchards due to feeding on the roots of young trees.