Egyptian Water Vole

The Egyptian Water Vole (Arvicola amphibius or A. terrestris), is a semi-aquatic mammal that resembles a rat and is often informally called the “˜water rat’. However, water voles are a separate species from the rat. Water voles have rounder noses than rats, deep brown fur, chubby faces and short fuzzy ears. Unlike rats, their tails, paws and ears are covered with hair. Water voles survive for a mere 5 months in the wild and rarely live through more than 1 winter.

Water voles reach 5 to 9 inches in length and weigh from 6 to 12 ounces. The young must reach 5 to 6 ounces in weight to be able to survive the winter. They are expert swimmers and divers. They do not usually live in large groups. Adult water voles each have their own territories, which they mark with a secretion from their bodies. They will attack if their territory is invaded by another vole.

Water voles mainly eat grass and plants near the water. At times, they will also consume fruits, bulbs, twigs, buds, and roots. In Europe, when there is enough food to last water voles a long time, water vole “plagues” can take place. Water voles eat ravenously, destroying entire fields of grass and leaving the fields full of burrows, during these plagues.

The mating period lasts from March into late autumn. The female vole’s pregnancy lasts for approximately 21 days. Up to 8 baby voles can be born, each weighing around one fifth of an ounce. The young voles open their eyes three days after their birth. They are half the size of a full grown water vole by the time they are weaned.