Voles/Meadow Mice are small mouse-like rodents similar in appearance to pocket gophers. They have a compact, heavy body, short legs, short furred tail, small eyes and partially hidden ears. The long, coarse fur is blackish brown to grayish brown. When full grown they can be 5 to 8 inches long.
Voles spend considerable time above ground but mostly below ground in burrows. Signs of their presence are well-traveled, above-ground runways that connect to burrow openings. Runways are usually hidden beneath a protective layer of grass or other ground cover.
Voles are active day and night, year-round. They are normally found in areas with dense vegetation. Voles dig many short, shallow burrows and make underground nests of grass, stems and leaves. In areas with winter snow, voles will burrow in and through the snow to the surface.
Voles are mostly vegetarian, feeding on a variety of grasses, plants, bulbs and tubers. They eat bark and roots of trees, usually in fall or winter. Voles cause damage by feeding on a wide range of garden plants, turf and landscape plantings.
One way to effectively deter vole populations is to make the habitat less suitable to them. Weeds, heavy mulch and dense vegetative cover encourage voles by providing food and protection from predators and environmental stresses. Remove this protection and numbers will decline. Trees, vines and ornamentals can be protected with cylinders made from hardware cloth, sheet metal or heavy plastic that surrounds the trunk.
When voles are not numerous or when the population is concentrated in a small area, trapping may be effective.