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8 Effective Methods to Get Rid of Voles

Voles,  get rid of Voles, Meadow Mice, Field Mice

What are Voles?

Voles, also known as meadow mice or field mice, are small rodents commonly found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

They are often mistaken for mice due to their similar appearance. However, voles have shorter tails, rounder ears, and stockier bodies than mice. They range in size from 3 to 9 inches in length (7-22 cm) and can weigh up to 2.5 ounces. They have thick, dense fur that varies in color from gray to brown and can be lighter on the belly.

They have a relatively short lifespan, usually living for only a year or two. Voles are herbivores and feed on a variety of plants and grasses, which can make them a nuisance for gardeners and farmers.

What’s the Difference Between Vole and Mole?

Voles and moles are both small burrowing mammals, but they have some notable differences:

  • Appearance: Voles are small rodents with round bodies, short legs, and short tails. They have rounded, blunt snouts, small eyes, and partially hidden ears. In contrast, moles have long, cylindrical bodies with large, spade-like front feet for digging. They have an elongated head and snout, small eyes, and no external ears. Moles also have long, hairless tails that extend beyond their body.
  • Diet: Voles primarily eat plants and roots, while moles mainly eat insects, earthworms, and grubs.
  • Burrowing habits: Voles make shallow, visible tunnels on the ground surface with golf ball-sized exit holes, while moles create deep, underground tunnels that are not visible on the surface.
  • Damage: Voles can damage lawns, gardens, and crops by eating plants and roots, while moles can damage lawns by creating unsightly ridges and mounds in the soil.

What’s the Difference Between Vole and Mouse?

While voles and mice are similar in appearance and behavior, there are a few key differences between the two:

Appearance: Voles are typically stockier and have shorter tails than mice. Their eyes and ears are also smaller and less prominent than those of mice.

Diet: Voles primarily feed on plant materials, such as roots, bulbs, and tubers. Mice, on the other hand, are omnivorous and will eat a wide range of food, including grains, seeds, and insects.

Behavior: Voles are primarily active during the day, while mice are typically more active at night. They also spend more time underground, building complex tunnel systems, while mice are more likely to live in above-ground nests.

Reproduction: Voles reproduce rapidly and can have several litters per year, with up to ten young per litter. Mice also reproduce quickly but typically have smaller litters of 3-14 young.

Damage: Voles can cause significant damage to lawns, gardens, and landscaping, while mice are more likely to cause damage to structures by chewing on wires, insulation, and other materials.

It’s important to accurately identify whether you have a vole or mouse problem, as different control methods may be required. If you are unsure, consider consulting with a pest control professional for guidance.

What Do Voles Eat?

Voles are herbivores and their diet primarily consists of plant material such as roots, bulbs, tubers, bark, seeds, and stems. They may also eat insects and other small animals on occasion. Different species may have slightly different diets depending on their habitat and location.

What Attracts Voles to Your Garden?

There are several factors that can attract voles to gardens, including

  • Vegetation: Voles are herbivores and feed on many plant species. A garden with a diverse range of vegetation can be particularly attractive to them.
  • Moisture: They require moisture to survive and are often found near streams, ponds, and other wet areas. A garden with moist soil or standing water can be attractive to these garden pests.
  • Cover: They are small rodents that require cover to protect themselves from predators. Gardens with thick vegetation or brush piles can provide the cover they need.
  • Mulch: They are known to burrow through the mulch in search of food and shelter. Gardens with thick layers of mulch can be attractive to these pests.
  • Weeds: Some species of weeds, such as clover and chickweed, can provide an attractive food source for them.

Do Voles Bite?

Voles have been known to bite, but it is not common. They are not generally aggressive towards humans and will usually try to avoid contact. They are small rodents with small, sharp teeth that they use for gnawing on vegetation and other materials in their environment. If handled, they may bite out of fear or to defend themselves, but this is rare. It is best to avoid handling voles or any wild animals to reduce the risk of injury to both you and the animal.

Although voles typically do not interact directly with humans, they can carry various diseases, including rabies, hantavirus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, plague, salmonella, tularemia, and others. Therefore, it is important to take precautions when working in areas frequented by these pests. It is recommended to wear rubber gloves and close-toed shoes to avoid any contact with vole urine and feces.

How to Identify Vole Damage?

Vole damage can be identified by several signs, including:

  • Runways: Voles create surface runways, or trails, through grass and other groundcovers. These runways are formed by running back and forth along the same path, creating a flattened area where the grass or plants are missing.
  • Gnaw marks: They gnaw on plants and the bark of trees, which leaves behind tooth marks. The gnaw marks are usually on the lower part of the plant, near the base of the stem.
  • Burrow systems: They create underground tunnels and burrow systems, which can be identified by small holes or openings in the soil.
  • Damage to roots: They feed on roots, which can cause damage to plants and even kill them. If the roots of a plant have been chewed, the plant may show signs of wilting or yellowing leaves.
  • Presence of feces: They leave small, pellet-shaped droppings around their runways and burrow systems.

It’s important to note that some of these signs can also be caused by other garden pests, so it’s important to properly identify the culprit before taking action.

How to Repair Vole Damage?

Repairing vole damage typically involves a few key steps:

  • Identify the extent of the damage: Inspect the area for signs of vole activity, including damaged plants, tunnels, and burrow holes.
  • Remove debris: Remove any debris or dead plant material that may be attracting voles or hindering the recovery of damaged plants.
  • Treat damaged plants: Trim or prune them to encourage new growth, and consider treating them with a fungicide or insecticide to protect them from further damage.
  • Fill in tunnels and burrow holes: Fill in any tunnels or burrow holes with soil, and tamp the soil down firmly to prevent them from returning.
  • Modify the habitat: Reduce the cover and food sources in the area to make it less attractive to these garden pests, such as removing weeds, mulch, or other debris.

It’s important to monitor the area regularly for signs of further vole activity and take steps to prevent future damage, such as using repellents or traps. If the vole damage is extensive or persistent, it may be necessary to call in a professional pest control service for more comprehensive control measures.

How to Get Rid of Voles?

There are several methods to get rid of voles, including:

Trapping: Live traps or snap traps can be used to capture and remove voles. Place the trap along vole runways or tunnels.

Repellents: There are various types of repellents that can be used to deter voles, including natural repellents like castor oil and predator urine, as well as chemical repellents like rodenticides.

  • Using predator urine, such as fox or coyote urine, around the garden or planting area can create the impression that a predator is nearby and may help deter them. You can purchase predator urine from hunting supply stores or online.
  • Using garlic-based sprays can create an unpleasant odor for voles and deter them from the area. Crush a few garlic cloves and steep them in 1 quart of boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and add 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Spray the mixture around the affected area.
  • Using hot pepper spray: Mix 1 tablespoon of hot pepper flakes with 1 quart of water and a few drops of dish soap. Let the mixture steep overnight, then strain and spray around the affected area.
  • Using castor oil spray: Mix 2 tablespoons of castor oil with 1 gallon of water and a few drops of dish soap. Spray the mixture on and around the plants that voles are targeting.
  • Planting mint or other fragrant herbs around the garden may help mask the scent of other attractive plants and make the area less appealing to voles.

Fencing: Prevent voles from entering your garden by installing barriers like mesh or hardware cloth around the garden’s perimeter.

Tree protection: Create a barrier around their trunks using wire mesh with holes no larger than ¼ inch. The cylinder should be approximately 24 inches tall (60 cm) and extend several inches into the soil to prevent pests from burrowing underneath. It’s important to ensure a snug fit to effectively keep pests out.

Bulb protection: To protect bulbs from rodents, you can plant them in baskets made of poultry netting or add a layer of coarse gravel to the soil. To conceal desirable bulbs from rodents, consider planting your tasty tulips together with daffodils since the latter are poisonous.

Habitat modification: Eliminate areas of heavy ground cover or dense vegetation that provide ideal habitats for voles.

Plants: Using certain plants is one natural method to help repel voles from your garden or yard. Here are a few examples of plants that may help deter these pests:

Natural predators: Encourage natural predators like owls, hawks, foxes, and snakes to take up residence in your garden to help control vole populations.

It’s important to note that some of these methods may be more effective than others, depending on the severity of the vole infestation and the specific conditions of your garden. It may be necessary to use a combination of methods to effectively get rid of voles.

Control Methods to Avoid

While there are many effective control methods for voles, there are also some methods to avoid, as they can be ineffective or even harmful. Here are a few vole control methods to avoid:

  • Poison baits: While poison baits may be effective at killing voles, they can also harm other animals and even pets if ingested. Additionally, poisoned voles may die inside the burrow and create a bad odor and attract other pests.
  • Flooding: Flooding vole burrows may seem like an effective control method, but it can actually push voles into other areas, potentially causing them to spread to new locations.
  • Fumigation: Fumigating vole burrows with toxic gas is not only ineffective but also extremely dangerous, as it can pose serious health risks to people and pets.
  • Vibrating or sonic repellents: There is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of vibrating or sonic devices in controlling voles, and these devices can be expensive and noisy.

It’s important to use safe and effective methods to control voles and to avoid methods that can cause harm to people, pets, and the environment. If you are unsure about the best way to control voles, consider consulting with a pest control professional.

When should you call a professional?

If you are experiencing a persistent vole problem that is causing significant damage to your property, it may be time to call a professional pest control service. Here are some signs that you may need to call in a professional:

  • The vole infestation is widespread and affects a large area.
  • You have tried several control methods without success.
  • The vole problem is causing significant damage to your lawn, garden, or landscaping.
  • You are not comfortable handling traps or other control methods on your own.

A professional pest control service can provide a variety of control options, including trapping, repellents, and habitat modification, and can help you determine the best approach for your specific situation. They can also ensure that the control methods are safe and effective, and help you take steps to prevent future vole problems.

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