Living World presenter Chris Sperring this week joins Dr Fiona Mathews, Senior Lecturer in Mammalian Biology at Exeter University on a quest to unravel the secrets behind one of the most abundant if secretive mammals in the UK - the vole. Travelling to the Mendip Hills in Somerset their journey begins with the knowledge that there are five types of vole found in the UK, water voles, bank voles, Orkney voles, Guernsey voles and field voles; five species not to be confused with similarly sized mice. At nearly 1000 feet above sea level, the Mendip Hills is a hotspot for both field and bank voles and as Chris and Fiona set out to see a vole for themselves it proves much harder than they think. Despite an estimated population of 75 million field voles in the UK these animals lead a precarious and all too brief life. Living for just a few months voles are prolific breeders and populations can fluctuate up to tenfold on a three to four year cycle which can have drastic effects on the species which prey on them including arguably Britain's most loved bird, the barn owl.
Produced by Jim Farthing.