Regional Offices > Green River Region > Critter Spotlight > North American Water Vole

North American Water Vole North American Water Vole

Also called Richardson's vole, acts more like a muskrat!

Fun Critter Facts

The North American Water Vole, or Richardson's vole, is the largest of North America's voles, and is a fairly close relative to the much larger muskrat, with which it shares some habits.  Water voles are from 7 to 10 inches in total length, including their very short tail, significantly larger than most of their kin in North America.  They are typically red furred or grey above and have a lighter underbelly, and larger than normal (for voles) feet to aid in swimming.  Unlike the muskrat, they have a short and furred tail.

- Similar to its cousin the muskrat, water voles are a semi-aquatic mammal, spending a portion of their life in water, primarily in clear streams, marshes and bogs in lush subalpine and alpine meadows.  The entrance to their subterranean burrows is often at the water’s edge, or just below the water line to aid in predator avoidance and escape.  Water voles spend a great deal of their time below ground and feed on plants from below (including roots).  Above ground, they are most active at night.
Like many rodents, water vole diets are varied, but consist primarily of leaves of forbs, sedges, grasses, and willows, but will eat some insects and seeds.

- Water voles are found primarily in appropriately open high elevation wet meadow habitats in western and southwestern Wyoming.  Large timber stands and dry, rocky habitats can act as barriers to dispersion, but populations are considered secure at this time.  Water voles tend to live in "colonies" ranging from a few to nearly 100 individuals.

- Water voles breed primarily during a three month period in summer, and may have as many as two litters per year, ranging from 2 to 9 young.  They rarely live beyond their second breeding season, and fall prey to a host of predatory creatures, both avian and mammalian.  Male water voles have a much larger home range which overlaps the territory of numerous females. 

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