Biology & Behavior
Voles, also referred to as meadow mice, are small mouse to rat sized rodents. They are pudgy, with blunt faces, small eyes, short ears, short legs, and a short tail. Eight species of voles are widely distributed throughout the various ecosystems of Utah.Voles are adapted to digging and build many tunnels and surface runways with numerous burrow entrances. They are active throughout the day and do not hibernate in winter. Vole activity is closely tied to the grasses that are their primary food.Voles can be reproductively active throughout the year. The average number of litters varies from 3 to 12, with the number of young varying from 3 to 6 per litter. Due to their active nature during winter, they are a valuable food source for owls, foxes, coyotes, and other predators.
When the snow melts from your yard, you may notice little pathways in your grass. These pathways are caused by voles (not moles), which are also commonly referred to as meadow mice. Voles tunnel under the snow and eat the grass clippings during the winter months and also use the grass to build nests.
Vole droppings look very similar to mouse scat, but in a greenish or grayish color. They can typically be seen scattered along their trails and in their grassy nests, but droppings will also been seen anywhere that the voles go.
Vole cause many types of damage. They feed on and girdle nursery stock, fruit trees, and ornamental plantings. They damage lawns by building runways under the snow. They also damage root crops, bulbs, and tubers. Most damage by voles occurs under the snow during the winter.