Vole evidence of intrusion should be easy to recognize. The ways to determine if voles are intruding onto your property, and perhaps the cause of some problems in your landscaping, are numerous. Read through the following techniques to help you recognize some widespread types of evidence of intrusion.
Vole Evidence of Intrusion- Runways
Mice use the same pathways for traveling from their nests to food sources. Because of this, the pathways can be worn into your lawn and landscaping. These are especially noticeable when populations are high. Look for vole trails in heavily grassed areas. The pathways themselves are one (1) to two (2) inches wide and will lead to many small entrance holes to their underground burrows.
Vole Evidence of Intrusion- Gnaw Marks
To keep their ever growing incisors in check, not to mention their ravenous appetite, they spend a good part of their active time chewing on vegetation, shrubs and trees. Gnaw marks left by the voles are evidenced in many ways. On trees, look for these signs of evidence of intrusion from late fall through early spring. In areas where the pine vole is common you have to dig several inches below the soil line to see if the gnaw marks come from below ground. Look for individual tooth marks that are 3/8 of an inch long and 1/16 of an inch wide. These marks are often in irregular patches and angles. Where there is snow present the gnaw marks may show evidence as high as twelve (12) inches up from ground level.
Vole Evidence of Intrusion- Tracks
Look for vole tracks in very wet or fine soils or in light snow. The prints will be small, only ½ inch in from heel to toe with the hind print presenting with five (5) toes and the fore print with four (4) toes. Like many mammals, the hind prints will show ahead of the fore prints, with some distance between individual walking prints. Print patterns vary greatly, but most often show as alternating series of tracks very close together. The tracks below are from the meadow vole.
Vole Evidence of Intrusion-Scat
Vole scat, feces, excrement or whatever term you prefer to use is a very good sign of vole activity. Look into the vole runways for very small, dark colored scat. It will most likely be one quarter inch to three-quarters of an inch long with tapered ends. The photo below illustrates the scat of the California Vole. Scat visible in the vole runways is evidence of potentially high population of voles in your yard.
Vole Evidence of Intrusion-Nests
Voles normally make their nests underground, however, occasionally, when nests are above ground they can be used to determine when voles have decided to take up residence in your yard or gardens. Vole nests are globed shaped and measure six (6) to eight (8) inches in diameter. Look for nests under planters and rock piles. They will be made of dried grasses and weeds.
Vole Evidence of Intrusion-Entrance Holes
Voles prefer to live underground; as such you may be able to locate entrance holes to their underground burrows as evidence of their presence. Entrance holes are small. Look for small holes along the runways measuring one (1) to two (2) inches in diameter.
Voles are quite secretive. They spend their time either in their underground homes or traveling a well covered above ground pathway system. This can make determining if you have a vole problem slightly problematic. The techniques above have been gathered to assist you in discovering vole evidence of intrusion.