Wildlife: 'Ratty' at home in the urban jungle

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The Independent Online
The water vole, once a familiar sight on rural riverbanks and streams, has become a survivor in the urban jungle.

The creature, famed as Ratty in Wind in the Willows, has found that living in polluted city waterways gives it an escape route from one of its worst enemies, the American mink.

Scientists working with the Environment Agency and The Wildlife Trusts' Water Volewatch have found that water voles have disappeared from more than two thirds of sites where they once bred.

This is due largely to habitat loss, change in land use, predation by mink and fluctuations in water levels. They have almost vanished from major rivers and now live in headstreams, canals, urban watercourses, drainage dykes, city lakes and even garden ponds.