Water voles live in the banks of ponds, lakes, streams, canals, ditches and rivers.
Water voles have suffered a catastrophic decline in Britain over the last few decades. Changes in land use and management have resulted in loss and fragmentation of water vole habitat which has led to the loss of colonies, isolation of remaining populations and an increased vulnerability to predators, in particular feral American mink.
Making new ponds can help water voles, particularly where they provide habitats that:
- Extend or link existing water vole colonies, helping to encourage their spread, increase the size of populations and enhance chance of colony survival.
- Add complexity to wetland landscapes, helping to confound hunting mink, which can eradicate water vole populations along simple linear features such as river banks.
- Provide a refuge for water voles during flood conditions, in particular ponds not connected to water courses.
Water voles are now fully protected under section 9 of the The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Variation of Schedule 5) (England) Order 2008.