Meadow voles are commonly referred to as meadow mice or field mice, and for good reason. If you were looking at a meadow vole, and you didn’t know that you were looking at a meadow vole, you would probably think you were looking at a large, plump, short-tailed mouse. But, unlike mice, these little creatures can cause major damage to lawns and landscaping.
Meadow voles, also referred to as ground moles, are small, chunky, ground-dwelling rodents that grow to be around 5-7 inches long. Their front teeth are chisel-shaped. They have short legs, stocky bodies, rounded, blunt snouts, and are chestnut-brown and black in color with dark gray undersides.
Their feet are brownish and the thin hair on their tails is dark on the surface with lighter gray near the skin. Their eyes are small and their furry ears do not project very high above the fur of their heads.
In nature, these rodents are most often found in grassy or weedy areas in places such as old fields and damp hillsides with heavy ground cover. They are also found on stream and pond banks, in orchards, and in pastures and hay fields. But they sometimes find their way onto properties where they can do severe damage to lawns, gardens and nurseries.
If you have meadow voles on your property, would you know it?
If you are seeing these furry creatures above ground during the day, it is easy to know that voles have invaded your yard (unlike moles, a yard-destroying pest that doesn’t generally show itself). But if you are noticing damage on your property and you are not seeing the critter that is doing the damage, it is important that you know what vole damage looks like.
What vole damage looks like and where it is usually found.
Voles eat grass and roots, causing damage to turf and landscape plants. Feeding on roots can cause the plants attached to the roots to dry out. In colder weather voles gnawing behavior can damage the bark on bushes and trees.
Voles dig many short, shallow burrows and make underground nests of grass, leaves, and stems. These burrows cause 1.5-inch-wide “runways” on top of the soil through the grass which are unsightly, to say the least. If left unchecked, voles can completely ruin a lawn. They also create burrow systems underground. These are indicated by small mounds of dirt at the burrow openings. But, if you are seeing this damage, it does not necessarily mean that you have an active mole infestation. To know if your infestation is current, check for an accumulation of droppings, no growing vegetation or roots in the middle of runways, and freshly clipped grass on the runways.
If my neighbor has meadow voles, should I be concerned?
Since voles live underground and create extensive tunnels, if neighboring properties have active voles, it is only a matter of time before those tunnel diggers will find their way into your topsoil. Voles don’t understand property lines. And, even if they did, how would they know they had crossed over if they are tunneling underground?
The best course of action when voles are discovered or suspected.
If you are seeing the evidence of vole activity in your yard, or perhaps even seeing those little mouse-like creatures themselves, you are probably wondering what you need to do to get them out and keep them out. There are things property owners can do to try and keep animals such as voles off their property, including putting out mouse traps or live traps, installing fencing, or using rabbit repellent. There is also the option of poison baits, but these are not recommended, as they are potentially hazardous to other wildlife, pets, and children. And while these steps may help keep voles off your property, they will not take care of your infestation if voles have already invaded.
The professionals at Smith’s Pest Management can accurately identify the property-destroying pest(s) you are dealing with and perform the proper strategies to take care of those pests for you. If you would like to protect your property from the damage that is being done by voles, reach out to us. We’re here to help.