Water voles are known for their ability to dive and swim. While most species possess the ability to navigate marine habitats, water voles are the only species of their kind that naturally construct homes in close proximity to flowing brooks, creeks, and ponds. Property owners with lawns or gardens may experience run-ins with the pests, as their diets consist of seeds, bulbs, root buds, and various other forms of vegetation. It should be noted removing or killing water voles without legal permission is forbidden and punishable by law.

Identifying Features

Outsizing every other North American species, water voles grow nearly 10 inches in length on average and weigh between 3 and 5 ounces. They resemble undersized muskrats, although it's easy to tell the critters apart because muskrats spend a much greater portion of their time in water. As they are portly and have small black eyes and protruding incisors, water voles may also be confused with rats, which tend to populate similar areas. Some of the water vole's distinguishing characteristics include blunted snouts and short tails.


Restricted to distinct regions of the Northwest, water voles occupy areas stretching from Canada down into Oregon and parts of Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The pests typically construct underground burrow systems on the banks of flowing water systems. Burrow openings are generally surrounded by chewed plant life, which gives off the appearance of a mowed lawn.

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