The Kennet valley is now a stronghold for that much-loved and much-declined animal, the water vole. It can be mistaken for a rat, which also forage along the river, but the water vole has a shorter tail, a more rounded head, less visible ears and richer chestnut coloured fur. It is most easily detected by looking for its characteristic prints in wet mud, or searching for the distinctive burrow entrances, generally just above the water's edge and often with fresh droppings close by. Unfortunately water vole have few defences against the predatory American mink, an invasive non- native species, and it's future depends on effective mink control and a healthy river corridor (established marginal vegetation, that provides food and cover).

  Above: water vole was photographed at Stonebridge Wild River Reserve in Summer 2014              Above: otter copyright David Kjaer

The valley is also good for bats, especially the common and soprano pipistrelle which feeds on small flying insects near the river.  Both species can be seen across the meadows and around the trees. Daubenton's can be seen hunting above the water on the river.

Otters have successfully recolonised the River Kennet and although sightings are rare, the evidence of their presence can be found on the riverbanks.  Otter spraint is the dung of otters and is often described as having a sweet jasmine aroma.  You can normally see the remains of fish scales and bones within the spraint, often deposited on boulders or rocks in and by the river.   

Otters are at the top of the aquatic food chain, they are a native predator and are a key indicator of the health of the river. Mortality on roads and habitat degradations continues to have a negative impact on otter populations.