Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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European water vole (Arvicola amphibius)


The European water vole is 12-23,5 cm long and can weigh up to 320 g, the tail is 4-14,5 cm long. Males are usually bigger than the females and both have thick, rugged, shining fur with a dark color, ranging from grey-brown to reddish-brown (sometimes even black-brown) on the back and yellow-brown on belly. The front paws of the European water vole have four toes while the hind paws have five. They dig lengthy burrows that can be 34 m in the winter and up to 74 m in the summer. Burrows usually have one or two nests and contain storage chambers for food in the winter. Water voles can have one to four litters a year with about 4 to 6 young each. The young are born helpless but quickly develop and become independent, the young can reach sexual maturity as early as 5 weeks of age. In the wild they can survive up to about 5 and a half months.


The European water vole adapts and survives in a wide range of habitats around rivers, streams and marshes in the lowlands and the mountains. It’s specialized in swimming and climbing, preferring steep riverbanks with lush grass and vegetation. They are mostly active during dawn and dusk, but may be active any time of the day.


The main diet of the European water vole consists of succulent vegetation, roots and bulbs, but it also consumes insects, mollusks, and small fishes.

Protection Status

The vole is currently listed as "least concern" on the IUCN Red List. No special conservation needs at this moment.

Interesting facts

An adult Water vole can consume approximately 80 percent of its body weight every day, generally eating as much as 227 different plant species.

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