The words voles and moles look and sound a lot alike and people seem quite confused as to which animal is to blame for damage to their garden. When you actually look at a vole and a mole next to each other or observe their habits you will probably find that they are very different.
If you think mice are cute then you will probably think voles are cute too because they look very much like them and are often called meadow mice. Here are two pictures; On the left is a picture of a mole; compare it with the picture of a vole above. They are both small furry animals but the vole really looks nothing like a mole. They are not as soft and furry as a mole and they have distinct eyes.
The presence of voles can be identified first by the above ground runways they make between burrows. The runways may be hidden by grass or groundcovers but can be discovered by tell tale droppings or dead plant material at the burrow opening. The presence of moles may be noticed by the proverbial molehill.
Voles eat a wide variety of plants, most frequently grasses, herbaceous plants, bulbs, and tubers. They also eat the roots and the bark of trees and can cause extensive damage to fruit trees in particular by girdling them. Moles, on the other hand, are carnivorous, eating mostly earthworms.
Vole populations fluctuate greatly. Female voles have 1-5 litters per year and produce 1-11 young in each litter, but usually have 3-6. The gestation period is 21 days and the babies are weaned at 21 days. The females mature in 35-40 days. Start doing the math and that means a lot of voles! The mortality rate is high, however, and the life span ranges from 2 to 16 months. Large population fluctuations occur every 2 to 5 years and most damage is done during the high points. Moles are not as prolific as voles and have steady but much smaller numbers.
In North Carolina it is illegal to poison either moles or voles but traps are OK. Check you local regulations before trying to get rid of either or call an exterminator.
Mole or vole they are both pests and cause a great deal of damage. The only thing worse than having a mole or vole is having both, yes?
If you want to learn more about moles see Moles: Does Anyone Like Moles