water vole(redirected from American water voles)
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also water rat (Arvicola terrestris), a mammal of the family Cricetidae of the order Rodentia. Its body measures up to 24 cm long and its tail, up to 15 cm. It is distributed everywhere in Europe and in northern Asia and parts of Southwest Asia. In the USSR it is found from the western borders to the Lena River and Lake Baikal in the east.
Most frequently the water vole is found along the banks of stagnant or slowly flowing bodies of water. It swims well and leads a semiaquatic mode of existence. Especially numerous in the floodlands along large rivers, the water vole lives in burrows dug in the river banks. In the summer it often builds a nest over the water in piles of dried reeds. The animal feeds on plants; besides wild plants it eats cabbage, potatoes, and root crops. In the winter it sometimes stores rhizomes, root crops, and tubers. Breeding from April to September, it has two or three litters per year, each containing from two to eight young. The number of water voles varies from year to year. High flooding, the drying up of bodies of water, epizootic diseases, and unfavorable weather cause their destruction. The water vole is harmful to field crops and in forestry and gardening. It is the main source of tularemic epizootics. The hides of water voles make second-rate fur.
REFERENCESVodianaia krysa i bor’ba s nei v Zapadnoi Sibiri. Novosibirsk, 1959. [Collection of articles.]
Panteleev, P. A. Populiatsionnaia ekologiia vodianoi polevki i mery bor’by. Moscow, 1968.