Attribution: Peter G Trimming (Panpipes of Vole Island auf flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Voles are larger than the house mouse with adults measuring up to five inches in head and body length. The tail, however, is shorter in relation to the body -- a vole’s tail ranges from one and three-fourth to two and three-fourth inches in length.
Blackish-brown to grayish-brown depending on the species.
Voles are also known as meadow mice and may be called orchard mice or field mice. Because they are poor climbers, voles are almost always associated with the lower levels of buildings. Outdoors, voles establish a well-defined system of runways that usually tunnel beneath vegetation. Sometimes the runways will be in the ground just below the surface. Voles also are known to girdle the trunks of fruit trees which often results in the death of the tree.
Widely spread across the country, voles primarily live outdoors, preferring dense grassy areas such as meadows or fields. For that reason, homes and buildings these rodents might infest tend to be near such fields. They may also be found invading stables and barns.
Voles may invade homes, but unlike the house mouse, they do not establish breeding populations indoors. The best ways to avoid invasions of mice is to (1) provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents, and (2) seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home through which mice might enter. The following recommendations should be followed to help prevent rodents from seeking the shelter provided by your home:
- Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.
- If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is any easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.
- Do not allow piles of leaves to accumulate next to the homes foundation. This also serves as attractive harborage for rodents - mice in particular.
- Seal any hole or crack larger than 1/4 of an inch. A good rule of thumb is that if a pencil can fit into it, a mouse could too. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.
- Install good, thick weather-stripping on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be sealed tightly.
- The installation of one or two wind-up mousetraps in the garage can catch many mice as they enter. These traps can catch up to 15 mice with one setting. Ask your Terminix service professional for more information.
- Remember, your Terminix service includes coverage of commensal rats and mice, and much of the service provided during the colder months is to inspect for signs of rodents and to maintain preventive control measures.