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Please don't kill me!

Rare water voles are making their home in Middlesbrough's waterways - but many are still being poisoned after people confuse them with rats.

Teessiders should be over the moon that the rodents - immortalised in the children's classic Wind in the Willows - are choosing to live in our becks, as it reveals a lack of pollution.

But many people are mistaking the real life 'Ratty' for rats and calling the pest control to have them killed.

Wildlife officer Kenny Crook is responsible for protecting their habitats in Ormesby Beck, Middle Beck and Spencer Beck.

He said: "Water voles have died out in 90% of their habitats across the country.

"The fact that they are breeding in Middlesbrough's becks is brilliant news. It shows they have good bio-diversity and that there are low levels of pollution."

One of the reasons why the water vole has died out in other areas is the disappearance of their natural habitats.

But in Middlesbrough, the becks are left mostly untouched, providing well vegetated banks where they can build their nests.

Kenny said: "If water voles are living in an area, it is unlikely that there will be any rats."

One of Kenny's main roles is to raise awareness of the plight of the voles and educate people on the difference between the harmless creatures and rats.

Rats have a much pointier nose, are larger, have more prominent ears and a hairless tail.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2006
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