Voles are poor climbers and usually do not enter homes or other buildings. Instead, they inhabit grasslands or croplands adjacent to buildings or gardens and landscaped sites with protective ground cover. Problems around homes, buildings and gardens occur with populations that increase quickly.
|Color||They are usually brown or gray in color.|
|Size||Voles grow to be about 3-9" in length.|
|Appearance||Voles closely resemble mice, but their bodies are much more stout and their tail is generally covered with hair. Their heads are more rounded in shape than that of a mouse and their ears and eyes are smaller. They have short noses, big ears, and long, hairy tails.|
Voles are usually herbivores, preferring to eat plants, roots, bark, seeds, grains, nuts and fruit, but are opportunistic and will also eat dead mice and other rodents. They end up doing the most damage to gardens and crops. Voles chew at the roots of plants, so if you see dead and drooping plants around your garden, you might have voles.
Habitat & Burrows
Voles can be found throughout Wisconsin in dense, grassy fields, gardens, meadows, woodlands, along lakes and rivers and in agricultural areas. Habitat selection is largely influenced by relative ground cover of grasses. They make their nests in underground burrows, and from their nests, voles create extensive tunnels beneath the soil surface in their endless search for food.
Voles can have up to 10 litters a year, producing 5-10 young in each. Because of their rapid reproduction rate, a pair of voles can produce over 100 offspring in a short amount of time. A female vole is reproductively mature at 20 days of age. Each gestation takes less than a month and females are capable of mating almost immediately after giving birth.
Signs of Infestation
One of the first indicators of a vole problem is seeing the burrows on your lawn or yard. Gnaw marks of about 1/8" wide and 3/8" long in irregular patches and various angles along with droppings, runways, and burrows indicate vole damage.
They create very short burrows, but they connect them to each other via runways. This creates a network of tunnels spread out across the lawn and yard. Voles burrow underground to find food and will devour bulbs in your garden. They also are known to damage trees and vegetable plants. If voles gnaw on the bark located low to the ground or devour the roots, the tree's flow of nutrients and water will be disrupted and the tree may die. If the damage is below ground, you will need to remove soil from the base of the tree to see it. Although voles are poor climbers, if they can climb onto low-hanging branches, they can cause damage higher up on trees as well.
Prevention & Control
Voles very rarely end up inside homes. That means that you are more likely to have to deal with them out in the garden, which makes vole control very tricky. However, there are some things you can do to try and prevent voles from infesting your yard, including:
- Removing debris and any unwanted vegetation. Voles will feed on these and use them for burrowing. These items also provide food and protection from predators.
- Keep grass trim and remove weeds.
- Surround trees with a steel mesh cylinder no larger than 1/4". The voles will go for the bark and the roots that they can get to underground. The cylinder should be buried at least six inches below the surface to prevent voles from tunneling beneath it.
- Cultivate the soil around your garden frequently. This will destroy the runways and burrows.
Batzner Service Specialists are highly trained to conduct a thorough inspection to find evidence of voles. Exclusion and population reduction are the keys to eradicating a vole population. Using a combination of treating burrows and bait placements, a Batzner Service Specialist will decide the proper course of action to eliminate the problem and make repair recommendations to help prevent future problems.
Regular inspections of your home by a pest control professional throughout the year is the best method to identify and prevent any issues with rats or any other pests. The BAN System provides regularly scheduled preventive services every quarter.