Orkney vole

A vole has small ears, a tail shorter than its body length and a rounded head. An Orkney vole is twice the size of the field vole, which is found across the rest

In summer, the daylight hours in Orkney are much longer and the vole is the islands’ only rodent to be active during the day. As a result, it is an important food source for hen harriers and short-eared owls. It is active throughout the year, but is not so apparent in winter when it spends more time in its underground tunnel networks.

The Orkney vole is only found in Orkney Mainland, and the islands of Westray, Sanday, Rousay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Eday. The Orkney vole’s closest relative is the common vole which is found throughout Europe but not in the British Isles.

It is suggested that Orkney voles evolved from common voles which were brought over to the islands by Neolithic settlers from Scandinavia, up to 5000 years ago. There is one other uniquely endemic rodent in Scotland, the Canna mouse, a larger relation of the wood mouse found in Scotland.

Water vole

Water vole

Arvicolla terrestis

This large rat-sized vole lives along a range of watercourses. The signs of vole activity include holes of around 50mm diameter connected with worn runs through waterside vegetation and characteristic prominent toilet sites, with greenish rice shaped dung...