Skip to Content
Call Us Today! 888-695-7722

Voles vs Moles

vole up-close

Voles and moles are often confused due to their similar-sounding names and burrowing habits, but they are two distinct rodent species with several key differences. Here's a comparison between voles and moles:


Voles and moles have distinct dietary preferences due to their differing biological classifications and lifestyles. Here are detailed differences in the diet of voles and moles:

Voles (Family Cricetidae):

Voles are herbivorous rodents, and their diet primarily consists of plant material. Here are some specifics about their diet:

  • Plant Matter: Voles primarily consume various parts of plants, including stems, leaves, roots, and seeds. They are known for their voracious appetite for grasses, clover, alfalfa, and other vegetation.
  • Bark and Trees: In winter when plant material is scarce, voles may also consume the bark of trees and shrubs, which can damage orchards and forested areas.
  • Crop Damage: Voles can be significant pests in agriculture, as they can cause damage to crops, particularly when their populations are high.
  • Storage: Voles are known to store food items like seeds and tubers in their burrows to sustain themselves during times of scarcity.

Moles (Family Talpidae):

Moles, in contrast, are insectivores and carnivorous, with a diet focused on small invertebrates found in the soil. Here's an overview of their diet:

  • Insects and Invertebrates: Moles primarily feed on earthworms, insects, grubs, larvae, and other small invertebrates. They are excellent hunters, using their acute sense of smell to locate prey.
  • Earthworms: Earthworms are a staple in the mole's diet. They are particularly important because they are a readily available and nutritious food source found in the soil.
  • Small Vertebrates: While insects make up the bulk of their diet, moles may occasionally consume small vertebrates like frogs, snails, and even the occasional small mouse.
  • Plant Roots: Although moles are not herbivores, they may indirectly damage plants by disturbing their root systems while digging tunnels.

Voles are herbivorous and primarily consume various plant materials, making them potential pests in agriculture and gardens. Moles, on the other hand, are insectivores and rely on a diet of earthworms, insects, and other invertebrates they find in the soil. Understanding these dietary differences is essential for effective pest control and habitat management in different environments.


Voles and moles have distinct appearances, reflecting their different biological classifications and lifestyles. Here's a comparison of the differences in the appearance of voles and moles:

Voles (Family Cricetidae):

Voles are small, mouse-like rodents with characteristics that distinguish them from moles:

  • Body Shape and Size: Voles have a relatively slender, mouse-like body shape with a distinct head, short neck, and a relatively long, scaly tail. They are typically larger than mice but smaller than moles, with a body length ranging from 3 to 7 inches.
  • Fur Color: Voles have fur that varies in color but is often brown or gray, although some species may exhibit reddish or black fur. Their fur is soft and dense, providing good insulation.
  • Eyes and Ears: Voles have visible eyes and ears, similar to those of mice. Their eyes are round and relatively large, and their ears are noticeable, with a normal rodent appearance.
  • Feet and Claws: Voles have relatively short and unremarkable feet, suitable for a terrestrial lifestyle rather than burrowing. Their claws are adapted for digging shallow tunnels in soil.

Moles (Family Talpidae):

Moles have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from voles and other rodents:

  • Body Shape and Size: Moles have a cylindrical, compact body designed for a subterranean lifestyle, with no discernible neck or distinct head. Their size can vary, but they are generally larger than voles, with a body length ranging from 4 to 7 inches.
  • Fur Color: Moles have velvety fur that is dark gray to black, which provides excellent camouflage in the dark, subterranean environment.
  • Eyes and Ears: Moles have tiny, nearly invisible eyes that are concealed under their fur and are adapted for sensing light and dark but not for detailed vision. They lack external ears, and their ear openings are usually covered by fur.
  • Front Feet and Claws: Moles have powerful, spade-like front feet equipped with long, sharp claws designed for digging complex tunnel systems. Their hind feet are smaller and less specialized for digging.

Voles have a more conventional rodent appearance with a distinct head, visible eyes and ears, and a terrestrial lifestyle, while moles have a unique, cylindrical body, velvety dark fur, tiny eyes, concealed ears, and specialized digging front feet that reflect their subterranean, fossorial lifestyle. These differences in appearance are adaptations to their specific ecological roles and habits.


Voles and moles have distinct habitat preferences and adapt to different environmental conditions. Here's a comparison of the differences in the habitat of voles and moles:

Voles (Family Cricetidae):

Voles are ground-dwelling rodents that typically inhabit a variety of terrestrial environments:

  • Grasslands and Meadows: Voles are often found in open grasslands and meadows, where they can easily access their herbaceous food sources. Their burrows and surface runways may be visible in these areas.
  • Agricultural Fields: Voles can become pests in agricultural settings, as they feed on crops and can cause damage to plants such as grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Forest Edges: Some vole species are adapted to forested environments and are often found near the edges of woodlands or in shrubby undergrowth.
  • Suburban Areas: In suburban or urban environments, voles may inhabit grassy lawns, gardens, and golf courses, where they create tunnels and runways.
  • Shallow Burrows: Voles construct relatively shallow burrows and surface runways that are commonly visible above ground.

Moles (Family Talpidae):

Moles are adapted to subterranean living and prefer different types of habitats compared to voles:

  • Gardens and Lawns: Moles are often found in gardens, lawns, and other cultivated areas. They burrow beneath the soil, creating tunnels and molehills that can damage the appearance of these areas.
  • Woodlands: Some mole species inhabit woodland environments, where they dig extensive underground tunnel systems that allow them to hunt for invertebrate prey.
  • Grasslands: In grassy environments, moles can be found digging tunnels, searching for earthworms, insects, and other soil-dwelling invertebrates.
  • Subterranean Lifestyle: Moles are strictly subterranean and spend most of their lives underground, where they construct intricate tunnel networks.
  • Deep Burrows: Unlike voles, moles create deep, complex tunnel systems, with some burrows reaching depths of up to a foot or more. They are primarily active below ground.

Voles are ground-dwelling rodents that live in a variety of terrestrial environments, whereas moles are adapted for a subterranean lifestyle and are primarily found in gardens, lawns, woodlands, and grasslands. The depth and complexity of their burrows distinguish the habitats of voles and moles, with voles residing in shallower burrows, while moles create intricate tunnels deep beneath the surface.


Voles and moles exhibit distinct behaviors that reflect their different ecological roles, dietary preferences, and lifestyles. Here is a comparison of the differences in the behaviors of voles and moles:

Voles (Family Cricetidae):

Voles are herbivorous rodents known for their above-ground behaviors and distinctive social structure:

  • Above-Ground Activity: Voles are often active during the day (diurnal) or at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They construct surface runways through grass and vegetation, which are visible above ground.
  • Social Behavior: Voles are social animals and often live in colonies. Some species are known for their complex social hierarchies.
  • Reproduction: Voles reproduce rapidly and can have multiple litters in a year, with each litter consisting of several pups.
  • Nesting: They build nests above ground or in shallow burrows for shelter and breeding.
  • Plant Damage: Voles can be agricultural pests, as they can cause damage to crops and gardens by feeding on plants.

Moles (Family Talpidae):

Moles are insectivores adapted for a subterranean lifestyle, which greatly influences their behaviors:

  • Subterranean Lifestyle: Moles are almost entirely subterranean and spend most of their lives underground, creating a network of tunnels.
  • Nocturnal Activity: Moles are primarily active at night (nocturnal) or during periods of low light.
  • Solitary Behavior: Moles are generally solitary animals and do not form colonies or complex social structures.
  • Tunnel Construction: They are expert burrowers and create intricate tunnel systems, including deeper tunnels for hunting and shallower tunnels for movement.
  • Molehills: Moles create molehills when they push excess soil from their tunnels to the surface, causing distinctive raised mounds in lawns and gardens.
  • Territorial: Moles are known to defend their territories, with some species being quite territorial.

Voles are diurnal or crepuscular herbivores that live above ground, often in colonies with complex social structures. They cause plant damage in agricultural and garden settings. Moles, on the other hand, are nocturnal insectivores that are highly adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. They are solitary animals that construct intricate tunnels, and their presence is primarily indicated by molehills in lawns and gardens. Understanding these behavioral differences is essential for pest control and habitat management.