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What Do Voles Look Like?

July 18, 2023 - Voles

Author - Tom Miche

what do voles look like

Voles are small rodents that belong to the family Cricetidae. They are often confused with mice and rats due to their similar size, but voles have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Here is a description of what voles look like:

Voles typically measure around 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) in length, including their short tail. They have a stocky and compact body with a somewhat rounded appearance. Voles have fur-covered bodies that can vary in color depending on the species and the region they inhabit. Common vole species include the meadow vole, prairie vole, and pine vole.

Their fur can range from brown to gray, and some species may have a reddish or chestnut hue. The fur is dense, soft, and can appear slightly coarse. Voles have a relatively short tail, typically measuring about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in length, which distinguishes them from mice, whose tails are generally longer. Their tails are covered in the same fur as their bodies.

One of the most noticeable features of voles is their small, rounded ears that are partially concealed by their fur. They have tiny eyes and a blunt snout. Voles also possess strong, sturdy legs with sharp claws that are adapted for digging and burrowing underground. These rodents are well-equipped for a subterranean lifestyle.

Voles are small, stocky rodents with fur-covered bodies that can range in color from brown to gray. They have short tails, rounded ears, small eyes, and strong legs with sharp claws. These physical characteristics help them thrive in their habitat, which often includes burrowing underground and foraging for vegetation.

How Big Are Voles?

Voles are small rodents, and their size can vary slightly depending on the species and geographic location. On average, voles typically measure around 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) in length, including their short tails. Here's a more detailed breakdown of their size:

  • Body Length: The body of a vole, excluding its tail, is usually between 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 centimeters) long. Some species may be slightly smaller, while others can reach the larger end of this range.

  • Tail Length: Voles have relatively short tails, typically measuring about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in length. The tail is covered in fur, which can make it appear shorter than it actually is.

  • Weight: Voles are lightweight animals, with an average weight ranging from 1 to 2 ounces (28 to 56 grams). Their weight can also vary by species and environmental conditions.

Voles can be mistaken for other small rodents like mice and shrews due to their size. However, their short tails and specific physical features, such as their stocky bodies and rounded ears, help distinguish them from similar-looking rodents.

What Color Are Voles?

The coloration of voles can vary depending on the species, geographic region, and environmental factors. Voles exhibit a range of colors, primarily within the brown to gray spectrum, but some species and individuals may have different shades or variations. Here's a more detailed description of the typical colors of voles:

  • Brown: Many vole species have brown fur, which can vary from light tan to dark brown. This brown coloration helps them blend in with their natural habitat, such as grassy fields and meadows.

  • Gray: Some voles may have grayish fur, which can range from pale gray to a more muted, earthy gray-brown. This coloration is also adapted to their surroundings and provides camouflage.

  • Reddish or Chestnut: In certain species, such as the pine vole, you may observe a reddish or chestnut hue in their fur. This reddish coloration can be more prominent on the back and sides.

  • Underbelly: The underbelly of voles is typically lighter in color than their dorsal (back) fur. It is often a creamy or light gray color, which helps differentiate them from their darker upper parts.

  • Seasonal Variation: The color of a vole's fur can also vary seasonally. In some cases, voles may appear darker in winter to provide better insulation, and their fur may lighten during the warmer months.

  • Species Variation: Different vole species may exhibit slightly different color patterns. Meadow voles, prairie voles, and pine voles, for example, may have subtle variations in their fur colors and patterns.

The specific coloration of voles can be influenced by their habitat, genetics, and the local environment. While brown and gray are common colors, variations do exist among different species and populations.

What Does A Vole Hole Look Like?

Vole holes, also known as burrow entrances or vole runways, are distinctive and can be recognized by several key characteristics. These holes are typically associated with the extensive tunneling and burrowing behavior of voles. Here's a more detailed description of what a vole hole looks like:

  • Size: Vole holes are relatively small, usually around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in diameter. The size can vary slightly depending on the vole species and the age of the burrow.

  • Shape: Vole holes are often rounded or slightly oval in shape. They are typically more cylindrical than the entrance holes of other rodents like gophers or groundhogs.

  • Location: Vole holes are commonly found in grassy areas, fields, meadows, gardens, and along the edges of woodlands. They are frequently located in areas with dense vegetation and are often hidden within the tall grass or ground cover.

  • Surrounding Area: The area around a vole hole may show signs of wear and tear, as voles use these openings to access their extensive tunnel systems. You may notice flattened grass or vegetation near the entrance.

  • Multiple Holes: Vole burrows often have multiple entrance holes, which are interconnected by a network of underground tunnels. These additional openings serve as escape routes and allow voles to access different parts of their territory.

  • No Mound or Pile: Unlike some burrowing rodents, voles do not create conspicuous mounds of soil or dirt around their burrow entrances. The openings typically appear as holes in the ground without a mound or pile of excavated material nearby.

  • Frequent Use: Voles are active year-round, so their burrow entrances remain in use throughout the seasons. This means you may find open holes regardless of the time of year.

  • Fresh Openings: When voles are actively using a hole, the entrance may appear well-maintained and free of debris. They often keep the area around the entrance clean.

While voles are responsible for these holes, they are not the only burrowing rodents in some regions. Other animals, such as moles and pocket gophers, may also create burrows and mounds that can resemble vole holes. To confirm the presence of voles, you may need to observe vole activity or examine the tunnels inside the burrow system.

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