Mammal Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Arvicola terrestris
European Water Vole


Distinguishing Features - Head/body length: 140 - 220 mm; tail 95 - 140 mm. Weight: 150 - 300 g. Brown, or sometimes black, rodent with blunt muzzle, small eyes, short ears, and tail about half the length of the head and body. Easily confused with rats, which are also competent swimmers. Rats have a more pointed muzzle, longer tail and larger ears.

European Water Vole Habitat

Widespread throughout, Scandinavia and western Russia; found on the banks of slow flowing, well vegetated rivers and streams.


Feeds primarily on waterside grasses and sedges.


Most often seen swimming; dives when disturbed. Traces can be found on banks in the form of droppings, food remains (eg. chopped rushes and sedges); and footprints in mud.

Water voles have declined in some areas in recent years, as mink populations have increased through introduction from North America.

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