Pest Library | Voles

Microtus pennsylvanicus

Vole - microtus pennsylvanicus
Color: Blackish-Brown to Grayish-Brown
Legs: 4
Shape: Small rodent that resembles a mouse with stouter body, shorter hairy tail, rounder head, smaller ears and eyes
Size: 3 to 9 inches, including tail
Antennae: No
Region: Eastern US
Voles are often confused with mice and they are also known as Field Mice or Meadow Mice. Although they have a short life span (2 to 16 months) they are prolific breeders and large populations can overwhelm a small area in a short amount of time.


Voles are active day and night, year-round. Voles thrive on grasses, small plants, dead animals, nuts and fruits, bulbs, bark and the root systems under plants and trees.


Voles construct a complex tunnel system of well-traveled, shallow runways to connect their burrows’ many exit holes.


Voles carry infectious pathogens and parasites – do not handle them without gloves. Voles are not good climbers and rarely invade homes or buildings. However, they are prolific breeders and their population can grow very larger, very quickly. A female vole can have 5 to 10 litters per year with an average of 5-10 young per litter. Voles will readily girdle small trees – easily killing young plants. Girdling is a process where voles gnaw completely around the trunk or roots of trees. They will damage gardens, fruit trees, and turf and landscape plants.


As soon as you discover a vole population takes steps to remove or reduce groundcover, heavy mulch, weeds, till gardens, and make sure to mow the lawn regularly. These steps will reduce their preferred food, remove the cover from their natural predators and expose them to seasonal elements.

* Information courtesy of Cornell University, New York State – Integrated Pest Management ProgramRutgers Cooperative Extension New Jersey Agricultural Experiments Station