A wading water rail

Water rail

Water rails are genuine oddities amongst British birds. With their pig-like squealing, and a fondness for impaling wrens with a spear thrust of the beak, they are unpredictable and noisy, yet reclusive. Their slender legs and toes are adapted for walking on floating plants, allowing them to slip quickly through the marshy vegetation without being seen. Cold weather triggers predatory behaviour, which is out of character with its largely insectivorous lifestyle, and they have been known to attack species as large as knots.

Scientific name: Rallus aquaticus

Rank: Species

Common names:

European water rail

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Map showing the distribution of the Water rail taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Water rail can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Water rail distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1