March 2015 - Voles

vole wildlife control


Trivia Question: True or False? Voles hibernate in the winter, reemerging in early spring.


Correct Trivia Answer: 

FALSE – They do NOT hibernate and actively tunnel under the snow, creating highways you’ll discover when the snow melts in the spring.




Voles, also called meadow mice or field mice. They’re compact rodents with stocky bodies, short legs, and short tails. Their eyes are small and their ears partially hidden. They usually are brown or gray, though many color variations exist. There are 23 vole species in the United States.

Voles eat a wide variety of plants, most frequently grasses. In late summer and fall, they store seeds, tubers, bulbs, and rhizomes. They eat bark at times, primarily in fall and winter, and will eat crops, especially when their populations are high. Occasional food items include snails, insects, and animal remains.

Vole tunneling damage to yardVoles are active day and night, year-round. They do not hibernate. Home range is usually 1/4 acre or less but varies with season, population density, habitat, food supply, and other factors. Voles construct many tunnels and surface runways with numerous burrow entrances. A single burrow system may contain several adults and young.

Voles may breed throughout the year, but most commonly in spring and summer. In the field, they have 1 to 5 litters per year. Litter sizes range from 1 to 11, but usually average 3 to 6. Life spans are short, probably ranging from 2 to 16 months.

Voles are prey for many predators (for example, coyotes, snakes, hawks, owls, and weasels); however, predators do not normally control vole populations.

Voles can ruin lawns, golf courses, and ground covers by creating extensive surface runway systems, with numerous burrow openings. Runways are 1 to 2 inches in width. Vegetation near well-traveled runways may be clipped close to the ground. Feces and small pieces of vegetation are found in the runways.

If you need help with voles around your home, or if you’d like to take preventative measures to keep them away, use our office finder to contact your local Critter Control office - or call 1-800-CRITTER (274-8837).

To learn more about a variety of critters visit our new "Animal Facts" resource.

Specific diseases transmitted by wildlife can also be researched from our website.

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Photo credit – Purdue University

Credits: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, University of Nebraska