Out on Hoe Rough this afternoon, Ollie and I were dodging between some heavy downpours. After a welcome sunny break burst through, I was walking back to the gate when I spotted something at the edge of the path, on the side leading down to the river.
No bigger than a cotton reel, and rolled in a ball, it looked to me to be a vole, possibly a very young one too. A closer inspection revealed a thick tail, indicative of a water vole. They are becoming rare now, and are classed as endangered. I have seen adult ones occasionally though, normally swimming quickly to the security of the reed beds at the edges of the small river.
I felt sad, sure it must be dead, and reached down to touch it to make sure. The damp fur felt like velvet, and its body remained motionless. Ollie ran up behind me and sniffed the tiny animal, showing little interest. Suddenly, it moved. That made me step back, but Ollie lunged forward and grabbed it in his mouth as easily as if it was a furry gobstopper. I shouted at him to leave it, and he dropped it back onto the path, giving me a sheepish glance.
The vole scampered off unhurt, hiding in some long grass nearby. Other than a few seconds in a dog’s mouth, he had escaped being a very small snack.