Moles & Voles

Resource Page

Carefully maintained lawns and yards attract voles and moles.  The more lush and lavish your landscape, the more appealing it is to moles and voles.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE MOLES AND VOLES?

  • Voles make holes and moles make mounds. 

  • Moles leave their telltale hills everywhere they go. 

  • Mole hills are easily identifiable by their conical shape.

  • They also leave ridged tunnels all over your lawn.

  • Voles, also known as lawn rodents or field mice, create both above-ground and underground passageways in the soil.

  • Voles feed mostly on vegetation, causing damage to not only your grass but also to your gardens and flowerbeds.

  • If you are seeing destructive activity in your lawn in springtime, it is more likely a vole.

WHAT DO MOLES AND VOLES LOOK LIKE?

  • Moles are small mammals 5 to 8 inches long with dark gray or brown fur

  • Moles have long, narrow snouts, small eyes and no visible ears.

  • A mole's feet, nose and tail are pink and their front feet are equipped with well-developed claws that allow them to dig rapidly.

  • Moles live almost exclusively underground.

  • Voles are small rodents approximately 3 to 5 inches long.

  • Voles have thick, furry coats that can range in color from brown to gray

  • Voles have short tails and short legs.

ARE MOLES AND VOLES DANGEROUS?

  • Moles are generally not dangerous unless threatened.

  • Moles do carry rabies, but direct contact with humans is rare. Stay away from any mole you find above ground, especially if it doesn't try to get away from you. It is almost certainly sick.

  • It is advisable to keep your pets away from any mole hills to avoid mole bites.

  • Voles host fleasticks and lice which can transmit various diseases including, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 

  • The voles themselves can transmit tularemia and rabies.  However, according to the Minnesota Department of Health there is no history of a vole bite causing rabies in a human.

  • You should be especially careful of voles that behave unusually.  If you pick one up, it will bite.

CAN MY YARD BE DAMAGED BY MOLES AND VOLES?

  • Moles can do great damage to lawns, landscaping and golf courses by tunneling, which destroys plant root systems. 

  • The ridged tunnels make lawn mowing difficult, and may cause trip-and-fall accidents

  • Voles destroy landscaping, killing as much as 50% of a lawn over a winter. 

  • Voles will also destroy flower beds, girdle fruit trees, and kill vegetable gardens from the roots up.

WHY ARE MOLES AND VOLES IN MY YARD?

  • Lawns that have a lot of worms, grubs, and beetle larvae are good hunting ground for moles.

  • Moles prefer soil that is shaded, cool, and moist because of plentiful worms and grubs and easy digging.

  • Moles typically make their home burrows in high, dry spots often under large trees, buildings or sidewalks.

  • Voles are attracted to landscaping with long grass, lots of ground cover and heavily mulched planting beds.

  • Grass or crops that are left long in the fall and then covered by snow can also attract voles.

  • Voles very rarely enter buildings, but may end up inside a building by accident.

WHAT DO MOLES AND VOLES EAT?

  • Moles are technically insectivores; not rodents.

  • Moles feed primarily on earthworms and white grubs, but will also eat millipedes, centipedes, beetles, spiders, and other insects that venture into their underground tunnels.

  • As the moles tunnel underground they uproot the soil and expose roots of trees, shrubs, plants and grass.

  • Moles eat from 70% to 100% of their weight each day. This is because they burn so much energy digging.

  • Voles like to nibble on the bark of fruit trees, ornamental plants, and plants in vegetable gardens.

  • They usually eat grasses and weeds, but they also relish insects like gypsy moths, snails, and the remains of dead animals.

  • In the fall, voles gather and store seeds, bulbs, tubers, and rhizomes.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF MOLES AND VOLES?

The gestation period of moles is approximately 42 days.

  • Three to five young are born, mainly in March and early April.

  • The moles have only a few natural enemies because of their secluded life underground. Coyotes, dogs, badgers, and skunks dig out a few of them, and occasionally a cat, hawk, or owl surprises one above ground. Spring floods are probably the greatest danger facing adult moles and their young.

  •  A vole can have several litters of three to six young in a year.

  • Vole populations have natural peak cycles of 3-5 years.

  • Natural predators of voles include owls, foxes, wolves, weasels, shrews and snakes.