Nature lovers across Wales are being asked to help monitor an endangered animal.

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has been rallying volunteers from Wales, England and Scotland to monitor water voles, whose populations have shockingly decreased by 90 per cent since the 1970s.

Once a common sight along Britain’s waterways, the voles, forever enshrined in our hearts thanks to Ratty from The Wind in the Willows, are under severe threat due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and the predation of non-native American minks.

From April 15 to June 15, the PTES is seeking volunteer 'water vole watchers'. These helpers will observe their local streams, rivers, ditches, or canals for signs of water voles, which include feeding stations, burrows, latrines, and the characteristic splash as they hit the water.

The volunteers will then record what they find on an online platform.

The platform,, is open to everyone, with both pre-selected sites and new sites that can be registered for surveying.

Water vole officer at PTES, Emily Sabin, said: "With their glossy dark brown fur, blunt snouts and furry tails, water voles are incredibly cute, but the decline they continue to experience is nothing short of alarming.

"Thankfully, in some areas water voles are starting to make a comeback due to habitat restoration work and increased mink control, but their numbers are still much lower than they should be."

The data collected from these surveys contributes to the PTES's National Water Vole Monitoring Programme and helps identify where water vole populations are changing each year, and, more crucially, the areas where they are no longer found.

This information will enable conservationists to understand where the voles need the most help and to carry out targeted conservation projects to prevent further losses - such as restoring damaged rivers, improving links between wetland areas, and controlling the spread of non-native American minks, which are the water voles' main predators.

Last year, a total of 176 sites were surveyed across the country, with water voles found in 53 of them.

Essex boasted the most significant presence of water voles, with the animals spotted at eleven sites – the highest number in any county.

Norfolk followed closely, with voles sighted at nine locations.

Ms Sabin continues: "Whiling away a few hours along a local waterway surveying for water voles is really enjoyable and rewarding, but it’s also a fantastic way to take part in conservation and to make a difference to the wildlife that lives around us."

Volunteers hoping to become water vole watchers or wish to access the free online training can do so at the People's Trust for Endangered Species website.