Voles are rodents that may remind you of mice. In fact, their alternate name is Field Mouse. However, their tails are much shorter
than regular house mice, their bodies are stouter, eyes and ears are smaller and their molars are high crowned. There are at least 155 species of voles and they can grow from 3 to 9 inches. Voles can increase in numbers rapidly due to the quickness of their sexual maturity. Their litter can include up to nine babies making them able to have a little over a hundred voles in one year. These rodents are often mistaken as rats, gophers and even moles because of their similar characteristics.
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Voles tend to use tunnels and burrows left by moles and gophers and when they enter the home, they are easily mistaken as young rats. They can live up to six months and even though they can live a little longer, it's very rare. It has been estimated that about 90% of the voles that are born actually die within their first month of living. Voles like to live in grassy areas and what they like to eat depends on the species and where they're located. For instance, they may eat grasses, sedges, tree bark, grains, roots, seeds, berries, plants, green foliage, buds, bulbs and fruit.
Voles serve as a delicious meal to owls, snakes, hawks, coyotes, foxes, badgers, mink and weasels. This adds to the increase in their mortality rates.
Voles may spend most of their time underground, but this is where they can do the most damage. They may clip and feed on the plants that a homeowner or farmer may value all while destroying your flower bulbs, field crops and vegetables. They often make your lawn unappealing by destroying the grass permanently with their run-ways. They are responsible for the killings of many trees that haven't reached adulthood and they ruin shrubs.
Signs of a Field Mice Presence
Vegetation that is clipped closely is a sign of vole taking over your lawn. The clippings will be about 1 to 2 inches wide and the marks that they leave due to the gnawing almost always looks irregular and sits at many different angles.
How to Get Rid of Them
Some recommend that homeowners keep their lawns mowed regularly, use pesticides and hot sauce repellants. However, pesticides and repellants can be dangerous for your livestock, pets, non-targeted animals and your family; especially small children who regularly play outside. Not to mention, they can cause skin damage, allergies and cost money that you may not have to spend all the time using and reapplying pesticides and repellants.
Fences are also an option that you can consider to keep the voles out of your yard. Purchase a wire fence of mesh that has holes in it; making sure that the holes don't exceed the size of ¼ inch. Place this fence around the perimeter of your yard or garden by burying it at least 8 to 10 inches beneath the ground. Placing a fence this deep supposedly keeps the voles from digging under the fence. This can be effective if you seal off the holes that the voles use to come up through the ground before putting the fence down. However, there is no guarantee that a persistent vole won't be able to dig under the fence.
If you're really set on getting that vole out of your yard, the best way is through traps. Once you have determined that a vole is the reason for your lawn destruction, you will need to check the yard thoroughly; filling and sealing off all vole holes except for one. Set the trap close to this area with the bait inside. The reason this works is because the vole will have no choice but to use that one hole to come out and search for its dinner. Once the vole sees the trap, which you should disguise with leaves, he will enter and try to retrieve the bait, but will be locked inside before it can escape. These traps are not meant to hurt the vole, but allow you to catch them as they come out and remove them from your yard for good. This is a solution that is permanent and effective for maintaining the beauty of your yard. The voles can then be relocated to another area where they can thrive. Be sure to check with your local and state laws to make sure it is legal to trap and remove voles and other animals before doing so.
SOME SPECIFIC VOLE AREAS OF INTEREST:
How To Get Rid Of Voles In Your Shed
The presence of voles in your shed can be annoying at best. They eat away almost anything they get their tiny, sharp teeth on. Around seventy vole species have been found in the entire North America. They can multiply fast- around 5-10 litters of 3-6 baby voles per year. Therefore, if you see signs of them in your shed, which will look like 1-2” maze-like runways with connected holes, poop and grass in the runway, then your shed is definitely inhabited by them. Here are few ways which can help you rid your shed from these small mischief makers:
• You can begin by making sure that your shed is clear from anything that can shelter voles. This would include removing piles of brush, trash, logs and low bushes. Try making your shed as inhospitable for voles as much as you can.
• Voles engage in girdling and can damage your tree bark. Therefore, it is important that you fence up your trees to keep them from gnawing at the ring of the bark.
• Setting up vole traps can also help. Just position the business end of the trap at a 90° angle to the vole runway. Oatmeal, peanut butter and apple bits prove to be excellent baits for luring voles.
• Many lethal mousetraps will work in catching and killing voles as well.
Do Voles Carry Disease That People Can Catch?
Voles, mouse -like rodents in shades of brown and gray with small stocky bodies, are known to eat whatever comes across. With their tiny yet sharp teeth, they love biting at whatever food particles they come across. They have also bitten pets and humans. It is often speculated that voles can transmit rabies. But the Minnesota Department of Health holds that a vole bite cannot cause rabies in a human. This is because in spite of the fact that any mammal can cause rabies, small prey animals such as voles are unlikely to cause it in humans. A larger mammal may transfer rabies to a vole but it being a prey for the former, there is no chance that rabies could be carried and transferred into a human. Moreover, many wild rodents have been found to carry diseases. One such disease is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. It is a respiratory disease which any individual is likely to catch if he comes in contact with the rodent's urine, poop and nests. They also carry babsiosis and salmonella. It has also been found that wild moles host a wide range of parasites which can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease etc.
How To Keep Voles Out Of Your Garage
Voles, more commonly known as field mice, can also make their home inside your garage. They live underground but the paths they make while moving are the signs of their presence. Here are some ways in which you can keep your garage vole-free.
• Clean your garage: Pick up all the stuff from your garage floor that you have been piling up for months- useless card board boxes, old pieces of furniture, and anything else adding to the clutter. Voles like feeding on every single thing they get their teeth on. Stocking your garage and messing it up is synonymous to inviting voles inside it.
• Make vole predators your pet: Animals such as cats and owls are potential vole predators who can keep voles out of your garage by catching them. These animals are up at nighttime and this is when voles also gear up for action. Therefore, encourage your cats to stroll outside your garage at nighttime. You can also purchase and mount owl nest boxes outside your garage to encourage owls to nest in there.
• Spray Oils: Castor Oil can temporarily clear your garage from voles. The odor and taste of castor oil makes these neurotic creatures leave. Oil which is present in hot peppers, Capsaicin, can also be sprayed in the garage. Regular sprays of either are suggested to help but often found useless.
• Use vole traps: Nowadays there are many snap-type vole traps available on the market. Voles can multiply fast because of which they are often termed as baby makers. Traps are useful in catching them if attractive baits are used such as pieces of apple, peanut butter and grains.
How To Remove Voles From Your House
The thought of voles crawling in your house is itself scary. These mouse-like rodents are small yet fast and can be quite a nuisance. You need to take quick action to remove them from your peace haven. Here is how you can do it:
• Look for vole runways which can be identified by spotting vole droppings and oily fur marks on the surfaces at different areas of your room. Check indoors as well as the outdoors. Even though voles are active inside your home searching for food, they reside in the burrows they make outside in your gardens and lawns.
• Get about 10 spring mouse traps and bait them with peanut butter. Make sure that you set it in a way that the trap does not accidentally goes off hurting your fingers. Position the traps at right angles and place them along the runways in the way that the trigger end is in the runway center. Once the traps set, now you can wait for the voles to get trapped!
• Monitor the traps regularly. Reset them after removing the corpses. Use different baits every time to prevent bait shyness among voles. Also wear gloves when you are removing the dead voles and resetting the trap- ALWAYS.
• The vole carcasses can either be buried or packed in a sealed plastic bag to be trashed. It is dangerous to leave them in open as your pets might find and eat them.
• Destroy all the burrows by digging in. Make sure you remove each and every trace of vole burrows.
• Keep setting up traps until you are sure that there are none.