Chances are that you have seen a Vole before, but you had no idea that was one.
These critters are tiny rodents that are cousins of hamsters and lemmings but with a body that is stouter; a shorter, hairy tail; smaller ears and eyes; a slight rounder head; and differently formed molars.
These rodents are sometimes referred to as field mice or meadow mice in Australia and North America.
- Family: Cricetidae
- Order: Rodentia
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Common vole: 11 cm,
- Meadow vole: 12 cm,
- Prairie vole:12 cm,
- Common vole: 27 g
- Meadow vole: 43 g,
- Field vole: 25 g,
- Prairie vole: 42 g
- Common vole: 21 days,
- Meadow vole: 21 days,
- Field vole: 21 days,
About the Vole
For a little rodent that is quite common and capable of doing much damage to lawns, trees, and gardens, it is shocking that the name vole is much unknown to people all over the world.
People have even gone as far as laying the blame for the destructive activities of voles on moles, which do not even have the time to eat your plants the way voles do!
So you may want to ask just what exactly is this sneaky little rodent that manages to get do so much and escape the blame?
Read further as we explore this furry little critter known as the vole. There is no denying that when you see the picture of voles, they immediately look familiar.
Close relatives to hamsters, with which they have been found to share some standard features, voles have remained a largely wild species that you would not keep an eye out for when you Walt into a pet store like their hamster cousins.
When they become loose in your yard, be sure to have the do damage to lawns, trees, and plants.
Do Voles go by any other name?
Often mistaken for a rat or mouse, it is no surprise that the vole is mostly called a “meadow mouse” or a “field mouse.”
In fact, although they are related to mice, they have ears that are smaller, shorter legs and tails, a blunt nose, and bodies that are stocky.
Their exact shape and size will vary greatly depending on which of the 100+ species of voles you are dealing with, as it also depends on the habitat in which they were found.
There are meadow voles, prairie voles, water voles, mountain voles, tundra voles, mountain voles, and types that are specific only to some states.
Although the types of voles vary in color and length, the average vole is approximately four to eight inches in length and features lush grey or brown fur.
Weighing in at just a few ounces, it is its lightweight body that allows it to race fast for its tiny size, reaching an hourly speed of 6 miles.
To match the needs of its high metabolism, a vole consumes as much as its own weight in food every day.
Lifespan and Reproduction
When in the wild, the life expectancy of a vole is typically below half a year; however, it is conceivable that voles may live for almost (36 months) or three years in captivity.
Their reproduction life is also quite interesting as they are able to begin reproduction at about three to four weeks of age; female voles can also birth a litter on a monthly basis.
They have a 21-day pregnancy duration that results in 3 to 6 babies. The Baby voles have it rough, though, as it is estimated that only 10% of them typically survive beyond their first week.
Voles, also popularly called meadow mice, are herbivores critters that feed on grasses, roots, tree bark, vegetable crops, and tubers.
These rodents generally like to live in an area that is moist with plenty of ground cover and grass where they can go about scavenging for food without being spotted by any predator.
This is what leads them to take up residence in orchards and cultivated fields, where their voracious feeding habits wreak havoc on plants.
During times when there is a scarcity of plant food, voles feed on small insects or the leftovers of dead animals.
Are voles bad?
Voles may be mischievous, but they are not considered to be physically harmful to people; however, they are dangerous in the sense that these rodents can spread disease through their feces and urine and even introduce parasites onto your farm or property.
They have also been found to cause significant damage to fruit trees, lawns, landscaping, and even grain crops.
What’s the difference between voles and mice?
It is difficult to tell them differently for obvious reasons. Since mice and voles are both about five to eight inches long and both have brown or gray fur, it may require you to take a closer look at both of them to tell them apart.
Voles are visibly stockier than mice and feature shorter tails, bigger eyes, and ears that are smaller and less prominent.
Little Time, So Much Damage
When these critters are not utilizing burrows already made by moles, you will find them digging their own holes and stretching a series of runways across farms or lawns.
If you have plants and vegetables, get ready to lose them, are they are its main course.
Remember that these rodents have to eat so much every day! – and your trees may have to suffer from encircling or girdling.
When we talk about encircling, we refer to what happens when the bark of a tree is stripped all the way badly around, making a large ring of exposed wood that may cause the death of the tree.
But all is well now! Repellents are very much available in stores, and they have been found to be effective at keeping voles and other rodents off your farm and property. These repellents and usually not so costly, and they come in granular and spray forms.
Also, the key to protecting your lawn from voles is keeping a tidy, as eliminating all areas of cover will offer an uncomfortable environment for such pests, which will do all they can to avoid being exposed to you and other predators.
Have You Seen a Vole?
If you ever had a vole encounter either in your yard or somewhere else? We are interested in your story and comments. Please be in touch by leaving a comment below, and we will surely reply.