Where Vole Live
Voles, like moles, exist in a wide range of living conditions: they are found in geographical elevations ranging from lowland costal areas, to mountains in excess of 12,000 feet amidst a wide array of soil types and climate conditions.
Voles as a species prefer to habituate areas thick in grasses and underbrush where they can create runways and grass tunnels that will keep their travels hidden away from predatory eyes. When tunnels are available, most species of vole will borrow these tunnels and runway systems created by other types of burrowing pests such as the gopher or mole rather than dig their own. Often while traveling through these tunnels the vole will stop to “snack” on food sources it finds in the tunnel which can cause critter identification confusion such as when it borrows the tunnel of a mole.
The most obvious vole calling card can be found at its burrow opening. The vole burrow opening will typically have all of the grass that immediately surrounds it closely cropped and there will not be any apparent soil mounding evidence.
Some vole species specifics are as follows:
- Mountain vole Prefers a moist or wet habitat with abundant, dense, grass protection. The mountain vole will often be found near a source of water. The nest of the mountain vole, which is often lined with dried grasses, will be excavated in moist soil. The female mountain vole is territorial, and will defend up to 100 feet from the nest opening.
- California vole The California vole will often be found to reside in a habitat very similar to that of the mountain vole. Also in common with the mountain vole, this vole will create its nesting burrow with dried grasses however, unlike the mountain vole, both the male and female will defend the nest. The California vole is a social species, often sharing its burrow with other voles after the breeding season.
- Oregon vole Found mostly in forested area in various condition of tree and brush coverage from heavy forestation to burned or clear-cut. The population of Oregon voles is often found to be higher in the areas of clear-cut or fire damage possibly due to the increase in sun exposure and the resulting increase in plant growth. This vole can often be found to make its burrow and nest inside rotting logs.
- Pine vole The pine or woodland vole will be found in deciduous forest areas where they will forage and create their burrow in the dense leaf foliage and loose soil found on the forest floor. The female of this species of vole will create a round shaped nest of shredded vegetation. The pine vole is a social vole, and may often be found in the company of other pine voles.
- Prairie vole As their name suggests, the prairie vole will typically be found on grass-covered plains and fields. Like the pine or woodland vole, the prairie vole will construct a ball shaped nest of vegetation and grass. This vole is monogamous, and the male will help with raising the young. The male prairie vole is fiercely territorial and will evict any other males who enter his territory.
- Long-tailed vole The long tailed vole habituates a wide range of environmental conditions from mountains to forest to grasslands to marshland's. This particular vole is not known to create much of a surface runway system but is a prolific burrower.
- Meadow vole Being the most widespread vole in North America, it is understandable that the meadow vole can be found to inhabit nearly any type of moist ecological location. The meadow vole will create an extremely elaborate surface runway system to forage and mate, and they are capable diggers and swimmers. The female meadow vole is territorial and will aggressively defend her space.
- O'Brein, John M., 1994. Voles: Prevention and control of wildlife damage. Agricultural Programs Coordinator. Nevada Department of Agriculture
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology - Animal Diversity Web