Vole diet consists of a great many green plants. As herbivores, they also enjoy nibbling on trees, shrubs, roots, and bulbs. This makes the vole diet a bit of a sore spot for many home gardeners and agriculturalists alike. While they have been known to occasionally eat small insects, the majority of this mammal’s diet is plant based with the ability to consume quantities equal to their body weight on a daily basis.
The diet of the voles is wide ranging. Specific favorites in the wild will include tree bark and grasses, sedges and flowering plants, roots and tubers. In your yard, garden or fields, their ravenous appetite will drive them to consume a great variety of vegetable garden staples including tomatoes and cauliflower, beets and artichokes, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and carrots.
Tree favorites are avocado, almond and olive; orange, lemon, lime, cherries and apples. These little mammals with consume both the bark and fruits of these trees. This allows for the rodent to snack on fruit trees year round.
Flower beds are not safe from the “meadow mice” either. They will become a regular stop along the vole’s daily foraging activities if they contain some of their favorites like lilies and dicondra.
Vole Diet-Physical Attributes
Physically, the vole is made for the constant feeding that must be done to alleviate their insatiable appetite.
All family members of the classification rodent have incisors that are every growing. They do not stop! With those rodent incisors, they really have no choice but to eat, eat again, and eat some more. This also allows for the vole to have a never ending set of teeth to partake in the tree bark and woody shrub twigs that are so much a part of their diet during the winter months.
The vole’s course, neutral colored fur is quite a help in their never ending quest to quell this natural urge to eat. The fur blends in with the vegetation during the summer and the snow covered ground in the winter allowing for safer treks to their favorite vegetable garden or avocado tree.
Vole Diet-Benefits and Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem
The diet of the vole is not the most revered by humans or the trees that they feed on. Large populations of voles can cause considerable damage to agricultural crops during the growing season. But perhaps the single most detrimental effect of their diet to humans and the ecosystem is their affinity for tree bark.
Because bark can be eaten year round trees can experience significant damage from vole populations. The process of eating the bark can actually cut the supply of nutrients obtained by the tree roots from reaching the top of the tree. This is called girdling and can cause the death of the tree.
Another potential detriment to humans is the behavior of making runways to get to and from their nests and food. These runways do not cause permanent damage but may make any well kept lawn appear a little haggard.
With an appetite for plants, voles will partake in a variety of green plants and woody shrubs. In fact, it is easy to see how just about everything in our yards, gardens and landscaping will fit rather nicely into the vole diet.