Saturday, 30 May 2020

Water Voles

Our new display family of water voles have been out on the island for about 2 months now, and have settled in extremely well. Some may think this is due to the lockdown we are currently in, and no visitors being here... and maybe that has helped a little, but to be honest our water voles normally settle fairly quickly once they are out on the island. It is a very large, natural enclosure for them and so plenty of space to hide if they so wish. 

I took the photo at the top of Walter, one of our male voles, a few days a go. It was a quick snap and go while he was eating breakfast and I was doing routines, but it made me think I must spend a bit of time with them and my camera. Yesterday morning was that time!.. I had a few minutes, so spent ten of them in around the island with my camera. The voles are active on and off through out the day, but usually have a peak around 10am. That's when I was there. 

I managed to see all five... Walt, Skyler, Saul, Gus and Jessie. All looking good and healthy. They do eat what we offer them, but can also munch away on pretty much everything in their natural enclosure so would likely survive even if we didn't offer any extra food. They would miss their apple treat every morning though. 

If all out together I could probably tell them apart, but would be trickier to do so one at a time... except for Walter and Skyler who are a bit more obvious. Mainly you can tell by behaviour though. Some are bolder than others, some use different track to the others, some prefer different feed stations etc. 

For example, this little one above is one of the youngsters. A female called Jessie. Very shy compared to her siblings, and often just playing peek-a-boo out from one of the holes in the main island... waiting for you to not look before she makes a quick dash to one of the feed islands.

Having the 'moat' around the main island allows our water voles to swim naturally as they would in the wild, and deep enough for them to dive and swim below surface if they wish to. Again they show different personalities when swimming. Some more relaxed than others, some preferring under water to above, and some freezing in place when spotted while others dash off, dive under or just carry on unbothered.

If you sit still, even if only for ten minutes, you get to see a lot of action... and quite possibly even all five voles. The way they move around and keep popping up from different tunnels though, you may well think there are more than that in there.

We also have some frogs in there. A few common frogs, and some marsh and even pool frogs too.

Once restrictions are lifted, and you are able to come and visit again, it will be well worth spending a bit of time by our water voles. Even if only for ten minutes, as I did here, you will get to see plenty of behaviour. Best time will likely be shortly after we open in the morning... around 10am for the first hour or so.

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