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Mammals on the River Annan
Image: N Chisholm
Image: C.Stones Usually contains small fish bones and scales, sometimes fur.
Image: N Chisholm
Otter (Lutra lutra)
Water Vole (Arvicola amphibius)
The River Annan supports a variety of mammals, however this also one of the hardest groups to spot. Despite this, signs of activity are everywhere and you should look out for otter spraints on prominent rocks, footprints in the muddy banks or feeding remains at the waters edge. Mammals like the water vole are extremely rare but are still seen on occasion while the otter is thriving and can often be seen during daylight hours.
Click on the species name to find out more about it:
Annandale Estates, St Ann's
Tel: 01576 470600
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The otter is a large semi-aquatic mammal and a member of the mustelid family of animals along with badgers, weasels and stoats. The River Annan has a healthy population of otters and they are regularly spotted even during day light hours. The best time too see otters are early morning or dusk. Otters are specialists at catching fish and this makes up the largest part of their diet. However they are carnivores and will take what ever prey they can catch including birds, frogs, toads and small mammals. Otters live in burrows or natural holes known as holts along the river bank and can occupy a home range between 20km and 30 km. Scotland is a stronghold for the European otter and the population is of international importance.
The water vole has suffered a serious decline both on the River Annan and nationally over recent decades and is now Britain’s fastest declining mammal. Habitat loss combined with the introduction of the American mink are the main causes of this rapid decline. We have worked for a number of years to control mink on the river in an attempt to reduce pressure on the water vole. They can sometimes be mistaken for their distant cousin the brown rat. However, water voles have fur on their tail and a more rounded face. They feed on grasses and riparian plants and live in waterside burrows and chambers which usually have more than one exit in case of flooding. If you think you have seen a water vole on the River Annan please report it to
One of the most iconic species in Britain, red squirrels were once the only squirrel species in Europe. The introduction of grey squirrels to the UK in the late 19th century changed this and had a devastating impact as greys have outcompeted and spread squirrel pox to the reds. It is estimated that there are now 2.5 million greys in the UK and only 140,000 reds. Red squirrels are easily identified by their red fur and ear tufts. They build nests, known as dreys in trees and feed on seeds particularly pine but also spruce and larch. They can often be seen in the tree tops along the River Annan corridor foraging for food in either broadleaf or conifer woodland.
The UKs smallest vole makes its home in the thick undergrowth along the river bank as well as the surrounding woodland, hedgerows and thickets of bramble and bracken. They nest under logs or amongst tree roots or holes in the tree. They are very active animals including during the day and are quite often seen scurrying about looking for food. Like other voles, the bank vole has a rounder face and smaller ears than mice. It feeds largely on seeds and berries but will take snails and insects. During the autumn bank voles will store food for the less abundant times ahead. They are also surprisingly good swimmers and have been known to cross quite wide stretches of water.
Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Bank vole (Myodes glareolus)