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Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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Terrestrische Schermaus

Montane water vole

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Arvicola scherman




Foto: Holger Meinig
The Water Vole is widely distributed and well known not just to mammalogists but also to garden owners and orchadists. Water voles are large voles, which depending on the substrate, generate large piles of excavated material when creating their burrow systems, which strongly resemble molehills. Water voles are good swimmers and often live in burrows close to water. But they also occur in drier habitats. Mostly water voles are noticed because they feed on the root systems of plants, which leads to the dying off of shrubs, bushes and even small trees. Herbs, grasses and the bark of woody plants are also taken as food. In spite of the apparent abundance of the Water Vole in these parts, one decisive questions has still not been resolved: Are we dealing with one or two species?
There are two forms in Central Europe, which differ in characteristics of the skull anatomy and habits. One is the so-called aquatic water vole Arvicola (amphibius) amphibius (also called by some Arvicola (terrestris) terrestris), which is supposed to be limited to the shore areas of water bodies, and the other one is the Scherman Water Vole Arvicola (amphibius) scherman, which also gnaws on the roots of garden plants and fruit trees far away from water bodies.

In North Rhine-Westphalia the Scherman Water Vole was recorded almost exclusively. A single skull, found in the lower Rhenian lowland plain, could be allocated to the Aquatic Water Vole. Water Voles can be found in North Rhine-Westphalia in shore areas of water bodies and in wet meadows as well as in dry tall forb communities, on fields, in gardens, tree nurseries and orchards.


Jan Ole Kriegs


Kriegs JO (2023): Terrestrische Schermaus (Arvicola scherman).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27



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