The water vole (Arvicula sapidus) is not a rat. It looks more like a small beaver than a mouse and actually behaves like one. Water voles have rounder noses than voles, dark brown fur, chubby faces and short, fluffy ears, unlike voles, their tails, paws and ears are covered with fur.

The problem is finding and seeing it. Because it’s rare nationally, classified as “vulnerable” on the Red List, and it’s living a life well hidden in swamps rich in aquatic vegetation.

The water vole doesn’t like to be watched, but it likes other water voles even less, so it mostly lives on its own, feeding on water plants and pretending to be a beaver, whipping its tail hard at the water surface when starting an emergency dive. But, as it is small, up to 15 cm long only, and, as it does not have a wide tail like a beaver, but a small thin one, the water vole seems to us a funny version of its larger parent, the beaver.

The western water vole is distributed in Portugal, Spain and France and in all countries it is rare and placed in a prominent position in the Red Lists.

So, if you are lucky enough to have a water vole in your pond or even in your biological pool, be kind to this animal. Sometimes the water vole will be kind to you too, showing itself by swimming on the water surface, eventually in a short distance and then suddenly diving in with the funny little splash.