A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter tail, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed teeth. There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are related to the subfamily “Arvicolinae” with the lemmings and the muskrats.
Voles grow to 3–9 in, depending on the species. They can have 5 to 10 litters per year. Vole populations can grow very large within a very short period of time. Since litters average 5 to 10 young, a single pregnant vole can result in a hundred or more active voles in less than a year.
Voles are commonly mistaken for other small animals. Moles, gophers, mice, rats and even shrews have similar characteristics and behavioral tendencies. Since voles will commonly use burrows with many exit holes, they can be mistaken for gophers or some kind of ground squirrel.
They thrive on small plants. Like shrews, they will eat dead animals and like mice or rats, they can live on almost any nut or fruit. Voles will readily girdle (strip of bark) small trees and ground cover much like a porcupine. This girdling can easily kill young plants and trees or other shrubs.
Voles will often eat succulent root systems and will burrow under plants or ground cover and eat away until the plant is dead. Bulbs in the ground are another favorite target for voles; their excellent burrowing and tunneling skills give them access to sensitive areas.
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