Wildwood voles on holiday’ from Crossness breed like rabbits

ENDANGERED water voles rescued from Crossness sewage works in East London have been “at it like rabbits” while on extended leave’ at a resort for wildlife. Conservationists booked 27 voles into a captive breeding centre last year which have since produced 50 babies

By Mike Brooke

ENDANGERED water voles from Crossness sewage works in East London have been "at it like rabbits" while on 'extended leave' at a luxury resort for wildlife in Kent.

Wildlife conservationists booked 27 voles into the Wildwood Trust's captive breeding centre near Canterbury in February last year which had been rescued before Thames Water began its four-year expansion at the Crossness works. The voles have since produced 50 babies.

Thames Water's Crossness project manager Antony Rippon said: "Rabbits grab the limelight when it comes to reproducing, but it appears our voles are after the bunnies' throne. They've been breeding like rabbits.

"We've become very fond of these little voles and look forward to them coming back home to Crossness when their new habitat is ready."

The voles are living in conditions with a good food source, clean water and out of harm's way from predators. They have produced healthy offspring, which will go on to breed again this summer.

They will be brought back next spring to Crossness, one of Europe's largest sewage works, when their new and improved habitat is complete.

The �220 million Crossness expansion to reducing the storm sewage that overflows into the Thames during heavy rainfalls, when the site becomes overloaded, includes new reed ditches for the voles at Crossness Marshes nature reserve next to the works.