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Last Updated: Tuesday February 26 2008 18:39 GMT

More help for at-risk creatures

Laura with a water vole

These cute characters are among the at-risk creatures that are going to get better protection under new laws.

They're water voles. You might know them from The Wind In The Willows book, where Ratty was a water vole.

Environmentalists say it's about time they were given more protection, as loads of them have died out over the last 30 years.

Laura spent a day on the riverbank, finding out more.

There used to be loads of water voles living in rivers and canals across the UK.

But over the last 30 years, they've become more and more rare and experts say that nine out of 10 of them have now disappeared.

Water vole facts
Live in the banks of ditches, dykes, slow moving rivers and streams and grasslands
Live for two years
Male voles can swim for 130m, females for 70m
They are 12-20cm long and weigh 20g-320g
Are hunted by American minks, stoats, owls, herons, large fish, foxes and cats
One of reasons why water voles are dying out is that more and more houses are being built alongside rivers and canals, making it hard for the them to survive.

Pollution is causing problems for them, and they're also under threat from animals like mink which eat them.

So now water voles are going to be given extra protection from the law, and soon it'll be illegal to own or to sell one, as well as to harm one or take one from the wild.



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