Vole | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Vole | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Vole Overview


Vole is a small rodent commonly mistaken for mice, who have stout bodies with short legs and a relatively short tail. They come in various colors, including brown, gray, and reddish-brown, depending on the species and region. Voles have small, round ears and sharp, chisel-like incisor teeth that grow continuously.

Their fur is dense and soft, offering insulation in cold climates. These rodents typically measure around 3 to 7 inches (7.5 to 18 centimeters) in length, including their tail.

Origins And Evolution

Voles, small burrowing rodents, have evolutionary origins dating back millions of years. Their lineage can be traced to the early rodents that appeared during the Paleocene epoch. Over time, voles diversified into numerous species, adapting to various ecological niches across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Their evolutionary history is marked by adaptations for burrowing, including strong forelimbs and sharp incisors for tunneling and cutting plant roots. Voles also developed reproductive strategies allowing them to thrive in diverse habitats, making them successful colonizers of grasslands, forests, and tundra.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Voles are primarily herbivorous rodents known for their burrowing lifestyle. They live in underground tunnels and construct complex tunnel systems that include nests and food storage chambers. Voles are active year-round and are prolific breeders, with some species capable of producing multiple litters each year.

They are typically diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, and they feed on a variety of plants, including grasses, roots, and bark. Voles are essential to their ecosystems as both herbivores and prey for many predators, contributing to the overall balance of their habitats.

Vole Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Cricetidae
  • Subfamily: Arvicolinae

Vole Locations

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Australia

Fast Facts

  • Name: Vole
  • Scientific Name: Microtus sp.
  • Habitat: Grasslands, meadows
  • Diet: Herbivorous nibbler
  • Physical Features: Small rodents
  • Nocturnal: Active at night
  • Solitary: Often social
  • Unique Order: Rodentia order
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Conservation Status: Variable
  • Fun Facts: Rapid breeders

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Brown fur
  • Skin Type: Furry coat
  • Top Speed: Quick scurrier
  • Lifespan: 1-2 years
  • Weight: Lightweight rodent
  • Length: Small size
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: A few weeks
  • Age of Weaning: 3 weeks

Vole FAQs

What is the difference between voles and mice?

Voles have shorter tails, stockier bodies, and different behavior patterns compared to mice.

Do voles hibernate during the winter?

No, voles are active year-round and do not hibernate, though they may be less active during severe winter conditions.

Are voles pests in gardens and farms?

Yes, voles can be agricultural pests, as they sometimes consume crops and damage vegetation.

Do voles live in colonies like some other rodents?

While voles are generally solitary, they may share tunnel systems with other voles, especially during the breeding season.

Are voles good at burrowing?

Yes, voles are excellent burrowers and create complex underground tunnel systems for shelter and food storage.

What are the main predators of voles?

Predators of voles include birds of prey, snakes, foxes, and weasels.

Do voles serve any ecological purpose in their habitats?

Yes, voles are essential for nutrient cycling and serve as prey for various predators, contributing to ecosystem balance.

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