Adult voles, depending on the species, are three to seven inches long. Most vole species have rootless molars that fold into a series of triangles. Voles are one of the few rodents whose molars continue to grow during their entire life. Voles live in a variety of environments. The North American Meadow Vole lives in networks of above-ground “runways” in grassy areas, as well as underground burrows. This can be especially troublesome for homeowners when they live on their property.
Why do I have voles?
Voles are widespread rodents, living across most of North America, decreasing in population south of Georgia and New Mexico. In the spring, voles create “runways” above ground that they use to navigate in a crisscross pattern. Under ground, voles create several shallow burrows that you can find by following runways. In the winter, they will burrow through the snow to stay warm and remain insulated in between daily foraging.
If you have a healthy lawn, a vegetable garden or ornamental trees and shrubs, you could attract voles. Because they mainly eat vegetation and plant roots, thriving plant-life is a perfect place for voles to live. Voles need to eat their body weight in food every day to survive their short lifespan which averages one year. Without an environment that is rich in easily accessible nutrients, voles cannot survive. Voles do not hibernate or hoard food so they are forced to scavenge for food every day.
According to the The Old Farmer’s Almanac, you can identify vole damage by looking for the following signs.
- If you have partially eaten carrots, potatoes, or other root vegetables, you probably have a vole problem. According to one reader, “They dig under my carrots, pulling them down, and eating them. There’s just a row of holes where the carrots were. Kind of amusing, like a bugs bunny cartoon. They’re a real pest this year.”
- Voles also eat flower bulbs from below the ground as they’re near the surface.
- If you see chewed-up bark near the base of trees and shrubs, look closely. A vole’s front teeth will leave ¼ inch side-by-side grooves in the wood as it gnaws away on the bark. (They’re rodents, after all!)
- Voles also tunnel through any root system, causing damage to trees and shrubs. If you see young trees or shrubs leaning over, it may be due to voles.
- Voles have many natural predators including owls, raccoons, hawks, and foxes. Their size is a disadvantage when it comes to defending themselves. Although vole spend the majority of their lives underground, they do spend time above ground, even long enough for you to see one in your yard.
Are voles dangerous?
They can carry several diseases such as Hantavirus, which humans can contract by coming into contact with feces, urine, or saliva from infected voles. For that reason, it’s highly suggested that you do not handle voles directly. Voles are active and breed year-round, this means that a small vole problem can quickly become a very large vole problem.
How do I get rid of voles?
If you want to get rid of voles on your own, you need to create an environment that is not conducive to their survival. Use fencing specifically made to be vole-proof, placing it at least one foot into the ground around trees and vegetable gardens. Remove debris like fallen leaves from your yard on a regular basis. Voles prefer areas protected by ground cover to feed, out of sight of predators. If you’re looking for a longer term solution, give Seitz Bros. a call for a free vole inspection.
Are moles and voles the same animal?
You can differentiate moles from voles with the following simple facts.
- Voles are rodents, but moles are not!
- Voles kill plants by eating at the roots. Moles are not interested in plant-life because they are carnivorous.
- Voles look like mice and moles have long snouts with large, clawed feet.
- Voles eat plants and moles mainly eat earthworms.
- Evidence of vole activity includes the presence of above ground tunnels. Moles create characteristic “mole hills” which look like mounds of dirt.
They really are quite different!
How does Seitz Bros. get rid of voles?
Our Home Protection Plans provide full coverage for voles and other common household pests, all year-round. Monthly or quarterly service options are available based on your unique needs. Unlimited technician re-visits are available to ensure that your pest problem is under control.
Fill out the contact form on this page or give Seitz Bros. a call today to set up a free vole inspection at your home!