Posted by: Ross Gardner | May 1, 2016

If there’s a rustle in your hedgerow……

…… it could well be a bank vole (or perhaps “a spring clean for the May Queen”, for those of you who got the Led Zeppelin reference in the title).  More often than not the purveyor of any rustling in the undergrowth tends to remain unseen.  I have however, in recent years noticed something of a tendency to catch sight of these rodents during the earlier weeks of spring.

This is perhaps not without some good reason.  The bank vole is, in common with many of the rodent clan, a most fecund little animal.  Females can bear young at a month old and potentially go on to raise 5 litters of 4 or more young during a single year.  They have been known to breed at any time of the year, but April is when the season hits something of a peak and it is this hormone-heightened activity that I am supposing leads to more sightings of this abundant but secretive mammal.  The individual in the picture is one of several I have seen during the last week or so.

And they are as adaptable as they are productive.  Typical bank vole food consists of a wide range of vegetative matter, such as fruits, nuts, leaves and roots, as well as the odd bit of fungi and occasional insects or snails.  It has though, always engendered in me a small amount of admiration when considering that when times become tough during the harshness of winter they will resort to dead leaves to see them through.  There cannot be much nutrition contained in a dead leaf for a warm-blooded animal, but then within the average woodland I guess they aren’t exactly in short supply.

Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus). Ross Gardner 2016.

Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus). Ross Gardner 2016.

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