While most of us will fondly remember chuckling over the stories of Ratty and his friends in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, water voles like Ratty could soon become a rare if not impossible sight in the UK, as their numbers dramatically drop.
The latest records show that 80 per cent of the species have vanished from the north of England since 2000, with sightings declining by 50 per cent in other areas of the country. The experts think our water voles are disappearing because of the threat to them from American mink, who have bred and bred since escaping from fur furm back in the Seventies. Housing developments and farming have also seen many water vole homes destroyed.
But the good news is that you can help save these charcaterful creatures to make sure their cute faces continue to be a highlight of Britain's waterways.
The Canal and River Trust are asking you to do your bit by visiting your local canal, river, reservoir or lake, and recorded any water voles, or other wildlife, that you spot. It's a fun activity you do with the whole family and by letting the Trust know where the water voles have set up home, their experts can help maintain and protect their habitats and keep them safe.
All you have to do if you spot a Ratty is download the Trust’s free mobile app- eNatureWatch- and record what you see. Just search Canal & River Trust in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to find it. Anyone can take part and you can record as many sightings as you like between now and October.
Take a look to watch water voles in action:
- You can find out more about how you can help here
- Photo ©Ben Andrew
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