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|Aquatic life||Various Botanical photos||Various Fungus photos||Ponds and water life|
August 3rd 2017 a water vole was spotted at the pond in Pauline's Swamp. I did not have a camera at the time but later that day I donned wellingtons and entered the pond edge to look for, and find, characteristic signs.
The signs to look for are a latrine where the vole defecates characteristic shaped faeces, plants bitten off at a characteristic 45 degree angle and characteristic footprints. The edge of the water is hard, not capable of taking footprints but the other signs are definite identification.
So there was definitely a water vole in Pauline's Swamp - it is impossible to know if there was just one, or more. Water voles generally live in loose colonies, within which each vole is rather territorial. The pond is very small to support such a colony!
In retrospect, the vole explains the first photo of the great spearwort, taken May 27th 2017.
Water voles are largely herbivorous and have been known to eat over 200 plant species including sedges, rushes and grasses. In winter they will also eat bark, roots, bulbs and rhizomes. Occasionally they, especially breeding females, will eat frogs, tadpoles, fish, snails and crayfish.
The feeding signs in Pauline's Swamp include a single Great Spearwort stem that was cut, a water plantain that has many leaves and shoots chomped and several water lily flower buds that had been cut off and partially eaten.
Crayfish have been caught in the pond. Hopefully, as there is a lot of suitable vegetation for the voles to eat, as well as lots of tadpoles, frogs and snails, the crayfish are safe.
They are most active by day. They live for about 5 months in the wild but have been known to live for over 2 years in captivity. Few wild voles live for two years.
Breeding season is March to October during which time 2 or 3, sometimes as many as many as 5, litters of 4-6, sometimes up to 8, offspring will be reared. Pregnancy lasts about 21 days and the young are ready to leave the nest after a similar time. Young voles will travel 1-2 kilometres along water courses in search of suitable habitat, but once they have found a suitable place to live they don't move far from their burrows.
They live in loose colonies but in the breeding season they are territorial. The males defend a length of bank typically 100m, the females about half of that.
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