Description: A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars. Voles can grow to 4-8 inches depending on species. There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America.
Biology: They can have 5-10 litters per year. Gestation takes 3 weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. Needless to say, vole populations can rapidly grow from one or two to many within a very short period of time. Since litters average 5-10 young, a single pregnant vole in the yard can become 50 or more in less than a year. The average life of a vole is 3â€“6 months. Voles rarely live longer than 12 months. The longest lifespan of a vole ever recorded was 18 months.
Habits: Voles are commonly mistaken for other small animals; moles, gophers, mice, rats and even shrews have similar characteristics and behavioral tendencies. Since voles will commonly use burrows with many exit holes, they can be mistaken for gophers or some kind of ground squirrel. They will readily thrive on small plants. Additionally, voles will target plants more than most other small animals. It is here where their presence is mostly evident. Voles will readily “girdle” or eat the bark of small trees and ground cover much like a porcupine. This girdling can easily kill young plants and is not healthy for trees or other shrubs. Voles love to eat succulent root systems and will burrow under plants or ground cover they are particularly fond of and eat away until the plant is dead. Bulbs in the ground are another favorite target for voles; their excellent burrowing and tunneling gives them access to sensitive areas without clear or early warning. A vole problem is often only identifiable after they have destroyed a number of plants.
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