SAVE Ratty is the appeal from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
Kenneth Graeme’s based the character of Ratty in Wind in the Willows on a water vole – but since the children’s classic was published in 1908, vole numbers in Britain have fallen dramatically.
Surveys suggest numbers could be down as much as 95 per cent in the past 30 years. The decline is partly attributed to the American mink, an aggressive predator of the vole, and changing farming techniques and the management of river, which destroyed parts of the vole’s habitat.
But surveys have found a small number of water voles have returned to north Warwickshire, prompting the trust to encourage them further, with help of a £61,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
The trust has already run 12 training sessions, volunteer days and activities – with more planned later this year.
Volunteers will learn the ancient technique of coppicing and hedge-laying to encourage fruit to grow for voles to eat.
Water vole platforms and ladders will also be built out of coconut fibre, enabling the animals to reach the bank from the canals, which are concreted or lined with metal and can cause difficulty.
Project officer Tim Precious said: “We need help from more volunteers to make sure Warwickshire’s water voles don’t make another disappearing act. We’re also appealing for members of the public to let us know if they’ve seen a water vole by filling in the form on our website.”
Email [email protected] or call 07464 486 27 for further details.