ID Your Vole
The Vole is often called a meadow mouse or field mouse, and it averages the size of a large mouse or small rat. They are found to weigh anywhere from ½ ounce to 3 ounces. The vole has small eyes and ears, the latter being mostly hidden in its fur.
Although it is generally believed that the vole is nocturnal, they may be active at any time. The vole will create shallow surface tunnels much like the mole in its search for food, but it is also just as likely to be found foraging on the surface. Most voles are social animals and many types will share their burrow with a handful of loosely related individuals.
North America is home to 23 species of vole: Below, we will discuss seven of the widest ranging and most destructive of these 23 species. The locations where these particular voles live may be found on our Vole Geography page.
- Mountain vole, Microtus montanus, also known as the montane vole. It has grayish brown to brownish yellow fur on its upper body and white tipped, black hair on its underside. The mountain vole will grow to between 5.5-inches and 7-inches long and have an average weight of approximately 2.5 ounces.
- California vole, Microtus californicus, has brown colored fur usually with a reddish hued section down the center of the back; its underside is typically blue-gray to white. The California vole spends very little of its time on the surface. It will grow to between 5.5-inches and 8.5-inches long and weigh between 1.3 ounces and 3.75 ounces.
- Oregon vole, Microtus oregoni, also known as the creeping vole. This vole has dark gray to dark brown fur with an underside that is gray to white. The Oregon vole will grow to between 5.5-inches and 6.5-inches long and weigh between 1.25 ounces and 2.75 ounces.
- Pine vole, Microtus pinetorum. also known as the woodland vole and one of the smallest voles in the United States. The pine vole is covered from tip of nose to tip of tail with light brown to dark brown fur with a white or silvery underside. It will grow to between 3.25-inches and 4.75-inches long and weigh between .5 ounces and 1.25 ounces.
- Prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster, the most common vole found in the Great Plains grasslands and prairie habitats. The prairie vole is found with dark brown to black hair tipped with black or muddy-yellow and a tan underside. This vole will grow to between 5-inches and 7-inches and weigh between 1 ounce and 2.5 ounces.
- Long-tailed vole, Microtus longicaudus, aptly named; the tail of the long-tailed vole will often make up 30% or more of its total length. This vole is found with black tipped, gray-brown to dark brown fur and a light colored underside. The Long-tailed vole will grow to between 6-inches and 10-inches long and weight between 2 ounces and 3.5 ounces.
- Meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, the most common vole in North America. The meadow vole is found with coarse, dark brown to reddish brown fur and a gray or off-white underside. This vole will grow to between 5-inches and 7.5-inches and weigh between 1.25 ounce and 2.5 ounces.
- O'Brein, John M., 1994. Voles: Prevention and control of wildlife damage. Agricultural Programs Coordinator. Nevada Department of Agriculture
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology - Animal Diversity Web