Britain's most endangered mammal has been found alive and well in five of Wiltshire's waterways, a survey has revealed.

The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust said it has discovered water voles living on the banks of the Kennet, the Avon, the Wylye, the Nadder and the Kennet and Avon Canal.

A survey carried out earlier this year by volunteers found the rare creatures at 23 out of 25 sites visited.

The charity said the recent survey, put together with records collected over the past five years, will enable it to identify key habitats for water vole colonies and protect and encourage local populations.

The loss of riverside habitat and the non-native predator the North American mink have contributed to the water vole's rapid decline - the shy creatures have disappeared from more than 90% of the sites they occupied 60 years ago.

The charity said Wiltshire has larger vole populations than many other counties, but it has seen numbers fall by around 30% over the last decade.

Beth Nightingale, of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Water Vole Recovery Project, said: "This information gives us a clearer picture of where we must target our work to help voles recover from the disastrous population crash they have suffered in recent years.

"The habitat in these key areas is quite good, but some locations need altered management such as fencing off river banks to protect them from livestock trampling and over-grazing."