clydehinton's picture

Water vole on the Nottingham Canal

Observed: 26th April 2008 By: clydehintonclydehinton’s reputation in Mammals

The Nottingham Canal is not in water along much of its length between Langley Mill and Bramcote, and certainly isn't navigable. I was cycling along the canal towpath back in April 2008 when I saw two rodents frolicking together in the water on my side of the canal. I tried to be discreet but they both took off while I was getting my camera out from my saddle bag. I'm sure everyone can relate to the further delay caused by the digital camera not wanting to immediately take the picture. By the time the shutter had closed, there was just one of these creatures and that had almost got to the other side. I was reasonably sure that these two animals were not just brown rats, but rather water voles. Their muzzles were rounded, not pointed. Obviously, I could not see much of their bodies but the tails seemed quite short. As a matter of interest, a few years before, I had seen a water vole on the towpath of the Erewash Canal near Sandiacre, Derbyshire. Can anyone identify this as a water vole from such scanty evidence, please?

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the naturalist man's picture

Water vole

No problem! This is definately a water vole. Two clues, firstly the distinctive, strong triangular wake left by the animal - otters leave little or no wake and rats leave a weak wake. Secondly, water vole's fur is not waterproof so the animal swims high in the water with most of its body out of the water - otters and rats tend to have only their head showing. It is because so much of the animal is out of the water that such a strong wake is left.
For all your problems this is an excellent photo for demonstrating how a water vole swims.

Graham Banwell

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tootsietim's picture

That helps confirm what I saw..

I was lucky enough to come across an otter hunting near a sluice at Strumpshaw RSPB last week but got only a brief glimpse. While waiting quietly, hoping it might return,what I can confrim to be a water vole swam across the water just like your photo shows.

Martin Harvey's picture


Hi clydehinton, would you like to add your identification of water vole above (click on "add a revision") so we can give you some agreements for it!

Entomologist and biological recorder