The southern water vole is active during the day, with peaks of activity in the late morning and early afternoon. It is sometimes also active at night, but typically resides in its burrow after daylight. The burrows of the southern water vole usually have two entrances: one primary entrance above water level and one underwater entrance. Its diet consists mainly of aquatic plants, grasses, and herbs, although small animal prey is occasionally taken, such as insects, fish, tadpoles and freshwater shrimp (1). The southern water vole does not hibernate and is active year-round (1), taking shelter in its burrow during periods of harsh weather (3).
Like other voles, the southern water vole is capable of reproducing at an extremely fast rate. Breeding occurs between March and October, when three or four litters of two to eight young are produced, after a gestation
period of around three weeks (1)
. Parental care of the small, blind and helpless young is the sole responsibility of the female (3)
. The young reach sexual maturity at just five weeks of age (1)
. Mortality rates, however, are extremely high, and the southern water vole suffers high levels of predation (3)
. The southern water vole may live for up to four years (1)