Water vole (North America)

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This article is about the North American species. For Old World water voles, see Arvicola.
Water vole
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Cricetidae
Subfamily: Arvicolinae
Genus: Microtus
Species: M. richardsoni
Binomial name
Microtus richardsoni[2]
(De Kay, 1842)

The water vole (Microtus richardsoni) is the largest North American vole. It is found in the northwestern United States and southern parts of western Canada. This animal has been historically considered a member of genus Arvicola, but molecular evidence demonstrates that it is more closely related to North American Microtus species.[2][3]

These animals have gray-brown or red-brown fur with gray underparts. Their large hind feet help make them excellent swimmers. They are 13 centimetres (5 in) long, excluding the 6 centimetres (2 in) tail, and weigh about 110 grams (3.9 oz).

They are found in alpine or semi-alpine meadows near water. They feed on grasses, leaves, roots and seeds, also eating small invertebrates. They dig burrows that are connected to water sources.[citation needed] They live under the snow during the winter.[citation needed]

The water vole is also the fastest swimming land rodent

Female voles have two litters of two to eight young in a year.

They are active year-round. Their burrows often have entrances at the water's edge or under water. They are often found in colonies.


  1. ^ Linzey, A.V. & Hammerson, G. (2008). "Microtus richardsoni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Musser, G. G.; Carleton, M. D. (2005). "Superfamily Muroidea". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 894–1531. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ Conroy, C. J. and Cook, J. A. (2000). "Molecular systematics of a Holarctic rodent (Microtus: Muridae)". Journal of Mammalogy 81 (2): 344–359. doi:10.1644/1545-1542(2000)081<0344:MSOAHR>2.0.CO;2.