Many people have never seen a vole before, and some people have never
even heard of the animals. While voles may not be spotted often, they breed rapidly, making the
animals abundant in the wild. In fact, the combined body mass of all voles in
the United States outweighs the combined body mass of all of their predators.
Voles rely mainly on vegetation for food, and they commonly sneak into
residential yards at night in order to consume grass, plants, seeds and fruits.
Voles dwell in a variety of habitats, including rocky and forested mountains,
boggy meadows, urban and suburban streets and even in people’s houses. Some
voles move around in the open, while other more cautious voles prefer to move
about within areas obscured by vegetation, but vole activity is mainly limited
to the nighttime hours. Four vole species have been documented in Pennsylvania
where the meadow vole is the most abundant species.
The meadow vole is also referred to as the “field mouse” due to this
species resemblance to a mouse. The meadow vole can be found across the United
States and in every Pennsylvania County. These animals can be recognized for
their stocky build, beady eyes and furry tale, and most adults are between 6
and 7.5 inches long, which includes their 1.3 to 2.5 inch tail. The meadow vole
has a chestnut brown coat with a darker stripe of fur running along the top of
its body, and their underside is greyish-white. The meadow vole prefers to
dwell in high moisture areas near small water bodies and in fields containing
low and thick grass. This vole species does not dwell in wooded areas, but they
can sometimes be found in open areas of grass in forested areas. Voles move
about secretly in grassy fields where they burrow three to four inches below
the soil’s surface. It is not uncommon to find numerous voles moving about
within grassy fields where they leave behind long and intricate trenches that
part the soil. Meadow voles consume roots, grains and the inner bark of shrubs
and trees, and they sometimes eat through the entire trunk of small trees,
killing them. Meadow voles are active all year round in Pennsylvania and they
are often spotted by homeowners around dawn and dusk.