Have you noticed strange, maze-like runways crossing through your yard and garden? Or perhaps you’ve discovered wilted plants, dying trees, and uprooted bulbs? If so, you may have a vole problem.
Voles are a common pest in North America, wreaking havoc on healthy lawns and destroying plants and gardens. In fact, voles can even cause damage to trees and foundation if they get out of control.
Are you wondering how to get rid of voles? Then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we are going to learn a thing or two about voles, the difference between a vole and a mole, and talk about how you can get rid of that digging pest and take your yard back once and for all.
What Is A Vole?
Voles are small, burrowing rodents that look similar to mice.
Voles are small rodents related to and similar to field mice. The two most common types of voles in North America are the prairie vole and the meadow vole, but the vole most likely tearing up your lawn is the meadow vole.
Meadow voles are the size and shape of mice. In fact, they are often called field mice and are mistaken for mice when seen. You can recognize a vole by noting its very small ears, which are sometimes hidden in his dense grey or brown fur. Voles also have larger eyes than mice, they are stockier in build, and have shorter tails.
These small rodents do not hibernate and are active both day and night, however they have a rather short lifespans of only three months to a year.
In general, voles are considered a pest to many homeowners in the United States. They can cause lots of damage both visually and physically to your landscaping. They also reproduce rapidly and, if not kept under control, you may find you have a vole infestation.
That said, try and remember that voles play an important role in our ecosystem. They are beneficial rodents who help aerate the soil and disperse nutrients to lawns. In small numbers, voles can help keep your yard looking fresh and lively. In large numbers, however, they can completely destroy it.
With that in mind, it’s time to talk about how to recognize the damage voles cause and how to get rid of voles for good.
Vole Damage – How To Recognize A Vole Problem In Your Yard
Voles dig surface tunnels through lawns that often look like little mazes.
Vole damage is often blamed on moles or other digging pests, when in fact the damage voles cause is unique and can be easy to recognize when you know what to look for. So, how does vole damage differ from mole damage?
For starters, moles are not rodents and have a carnivorous diet which includes earthworms, insects, and other crawling critters. Voles, on the other hand, are rodents that eat mostly plants.
Oftentimes, moles will be blamed for digging up gardens and eating tubers, plants, and roots when those aren’t even part of a mole’s diet. Moles will also usually create deeper runways and burrows underground.
Voles, on the other hand, create shallow surface runways in your lawn that look like little pathways. These runways are easy to spot, especially during the spring.
Most vole runways lead to holes known as burrows in the lawn. Unlike moles, voles don’t leave mounds of soil or dirt piled up near their burrows.
Some other common signs of vole damage in your yard include:
- Surface runways
- Flat holes in your lawn
- Wilted or yellowing plants
- Plants that lift easily out of the soil (because their roots have been damaged)
- Gnawed bark on fruit trees or shrubs
- Seeing a mouse-like rodent in your yard day or night
The below video gives a great overview of how else you can tell you have voles in your yard and how to further control them.
Now, let’s take a look at some common methods experts recommend for how to get rid of voles.
How To Get Rid Of Voles – Three Popular Methods
There are three common remedies you an use to get rid of voles.
There are a number of methods you can use for how to get rid of voles, but most experts recommend three popular methods:
Trapping voles usually consists of both live traps and lethal traps. If you have a small vole problem, trapping them using live traps and lethal traps can be an effective way to eradicate the issue. When using live rodent traps, remember that you should drive at least three to five miles away from your property to release the vole so it cannot find its way back.
That said, if you are wondering how to get rid of voles in the midst of a very large vole problem, we suggest using traps along with other vole removal methods like repellents or poisons.
We always say that prevention is key to controlling any pest problem, including when it comes to how to get rid of voles. If you can keep the majority of these critters from digging through your lawn in the first place, you are much less likely to wind up dealing with an infestation or a vole problem that gets out of control.
Our favorite vole repellents use natural ingredients like castor oil to help repel voles and other pests from digging up your lawn and garden.
For a very large vole problem, poisons may be necessary. While this is not the first recommended method for how to get rid of voles, it is an effective method when used properly. Most vole poisons come in the form of baited pellets or nuggets that contain rodenticides.
Rodenticides are highly toxic and can be seriously dangerous to use around children and pets. That said, severe infestations may require the use of more serious methods for how to get rid of voles, so if you must use poisons, use them only as directed and keep them out of reach of kids and pets.
Now, before you decide which method for how to get rid of voles is right for you, let’s take a look at some of our favorite products for vole removal and prevention below.
How To Get Rid Of Voles Using Traps
You can can make your own vole traps using buckets and bait.
As we mentioned above, traps can be an effective method for vole removal when used alongside other removal methods like repellents, preventatives and poisons. If you prefer to use live, humane vole traps for handling your vole issue, remember to relocate the vole at least three to five miles off of your property.
You can also make your own vole trap using buckets and bait like apples, seeds, and peanut butter, like in the image above.
Not sure which vole trap would be right for you? We have listed some of the best products for how to get rid of voles below.
Tomcat Vole Trap
The Tomcat Rodent Trap above is a popular trap for catching and killing outdoor pests like moles and voles. This product is a lethal trap that does not require the use of poisons and works similarly to a mouse trap.
It is kid and pet friendly and requires moderate maintenance. You can also use it as many times as needed, as the product is easy to clean and reset depending on your vole issue.
H&B Luxuries Vole Trap
H&B Luxuries provides a live, humane vole trap for those of you dealing with a minor vole problem. This trap is a weather and rust resistant vole trap that also works to catch other small rodents like mice and moles. When used correctly, it can be set and reset as often as needed to control your vole issue.
Best of all, you can bait this trap with whatever you like including peanut butter, which tends to work well for baiting voles. It is also kid and pet safe and does not require the use of poisons or chemicals.
Fasmov Humane Live Vole Trap
Another humane live trap we like for how to get rid of voles is the Fasmov Live Trap. This is a small animal or rodent trap that can be reset and reused as often as needed. It does not harm the vole and simply requires relocation once the vole is trapped.
We also like that the trap is weather resistant and rust-resistant, and safe to use around children and pets.
Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Vole Trap
The Wire Tek Easy Set trap is expert-recommended and catches voles using a spring loaded trigger. This is a lethal trap that kills voles quickly and can be reused as often as needed.
It also does not need to be dug into the lawn and can be simply placed near a runway. This trap isn’t only good for those looking for how to get rid of voles but it can also help eradicate a mole and gopher issue as well.
How To Get Rid Of Voles Using Repellents
There are plenty of natural repellents you can use to get rid of voles.
Repellents are some of our favorite methods for how to get rid of voles because they don’t require the use of lethal methods and often keep other pests away from your lawn and garden as well like snakes, mice, lizards, and even insects.
We have taken the time to add some of our tried and tested vole repellents below just for you.
That said, some of these below repellents will need to be used along with other vole removal methods, especially if you already have a severe vole issue in your lawn and need assistance removing these little creatures.
I Must Garden Repellent
I Must Garden Vole Repellent is one of our favorite vole and mole repellents because it is safe to use on gardens and around children and pets. It uses all natural ingredients and can be ordered in different varieties based on your needs.
This product also works throughout different seasons, including winter. Voles are very active during winter and often go unnoticed until spring as they are moving around beneath the snow. We like that this product above helps protect your lawn and property even during the snowy season.
Repellex Vole Granular Repellent
Another repellent option we like for how to get rid of voles are the above granules by Repellex. These granules are made using plant-based, natural ingredients like castor oil that you can use in your yard and garden to repel not only voles, but moles and gophers as well.
This product is free of chemicals and poisons, so it is safe to use around children and pets. It covers up to 24,000 square feet and can be sprinkled along your lawn and garden, and around the perimeter of your home to keep voles and other pesky diggers away. However, the product does advise against using these granules on edible plants.
Molemax Repellent Granules
No products found.
Another granule repellent that works well for how to get rid of voles, moles, skunks, rabbits, and gophers is made by Molemax. It only treats up to 5,000 square feet, but it work well by using castor oil to repel digging pests.
This product is safe and effective, and is fine to use around children and pets. That said, it needs to be applied carefully and correctly in order for it to work.
100% Castor Oil Vole Repellent
Since castor oil is an active ingredient in many of the granular repellents for how to get rid of voles and other pests, it comes as no surprise we would include pure castor oil on this list. Pure castor oil not only works to get rid of voles in your yard and garden but, when used often enough, will help keep them from returning.
Castor oil also works to rid your lawn of moles, gophers, skunks, and more. Simply pour it along the runways, around your garden, along the perimeter of your yard, and anywhere else you notice vole activity.
How To Get Rid Of Voles Using Poisons
Many vole poisons contain a toxic rodenticide that can be toxic to people and pets.
Remember, there are pros and cons to using vole poisons. While poisons may be necessary to handle and eradicate a large vole infestation, poisons can be dangerous to use around children and pets. Furthermore, some poisons may also be harmful to other wildlife and the environment.
Still, if you have a large vole infestation, we have listed some of the most effective poisons for how to get rid of voles below.
VoleX All Natural EcoClear Pellets
Because voles are herbivores, you cannot use the same poisons you would use to get rid of moles who eat insects and grubs. Instead, you will need to use something like the above product by VoleX, which helps to kill voles using baited pellets.
We like these pellets because they are biodegradable, safe to use around children and pets, and effective against controlling voles and mice.
And while this product does use natural ingredients, it should still be used as directed and kept away from kids.
Neogen Ramik Rodenticide
The rodenticide nuggets above made by Neogen Ramik are specifically designed to target and kill meadow voles. While this is effective and useful for those suffering from a serious vole issue in their yard, keep in mind that this product uses a toxic active ingredient called diphacinone.
It works to kill voles within five days of being applied and can be used both outdoors and indoors. It is also okay to use in wet or damp areas, making it great for winter protection against voles. Of course, this product should be used very carefully and kept away from children and pets.
How To Get Rid Of Voles Using Home Remedies
Many pests hate castor oil.
The moment you notice those little runways tearing up your lawn and garden, you may be desperate to get to work on how to get rid of voles.
The good news is that there are a number of home remedies you can use to repel and remove these rodents without having to purchase commercial products or poisons.
Some of our favorite products for how to get rid of voles using home remedies include:
- Castor Oil
You can use castor oil as a method for how to get rid of voles and other pests quickly as castor oil gives off strong odor voles and many other pests hate. You can use castor oil as often as needed to help control and repel voles naturally in your yard and around your home. Some homeowners even pour castor oil into the vole holes to help repel them.
- Ammonia or Bleach
Some experts say you can pour ammonia or bleach right into a voles burrow to help remove them. However, perhaps an easier (and less messy) method for how to get rid of voles is to simply soak rags or cotton balls in either substance and stuff the vole holes.
This should help repel the voles and keep them from returning. That said, ammonia and bleach are strong chemicals that can be harmful to people and pets, so use this method with caution.
Mothballs may also be a good method for how to get rid of voles. Mothballs have strong odor voles and other pests like moles and gophers can’t stand. You can drop mothballs into a vole’s burrow just as you would stuff the burrow with ammonia or bleach-soaked cloth or cotton balls, as we mentioned above.
However, as with ammonia and bleach, mothballs use a strong chemical that can be harmful to people and pets if not used as directed.
- Coffee Grounds
Wondering how to get rid of voles using coffee?
Coffee grounds can help repel voles from their burrows in the same way using mothballs, ammonia, or bleach can. You can use old or used coffee grounds and pour them into any burrows you find. You may also sprinkle coffee grounds along a vole’s runway.
Quick Facts – What You Should Know About Voles
Voles are related to hamsters and are sometimes kept as pets.
Voles are certainly a nuisance, but they also play an important role in our environment and offer a vital food source to a number of predators. Furthemore, voles live interesting little lives and are quite clever.
Here are a few facts you may not have known about voles.
Meadow Voles Are Mostly Solitary Creatures, But Do Enjoy Companionship
During the spring and summer, meadow voles prefer to do their own thing separate from one another. However, during the winter, meadow voles tend to congregate in groups. Female voles especially have been found to seek out same-sex partnerships when denning in the winter, but male voles also exhibit affiliate behaoir with their same gender during colder months.
Unlike Meadow Voles, Prairie Voles Are Highly Social All Year Round
Adorably, male and female prairie voles den together and raise their young. They have also been studied affectionately grooming each other and even forming life-long relationships.
Voles Are Serious About Breeding
Voles reproduce and they reproduce quickly, which is why it’s important to know how to get rid of voles once you see you have them in your yard. In fact, voles are some of the most fertile breeders in the rodent family, capable of producing up to ten litters a year, with between three to six young in each litter.
Voles Are Related To Hamsters
Voles are pretty cute so it’s no surprise they’re related to our furry little companions. However, a wild vole is not likely to make the same adorable and docile pet as a hamster. That said, some people do keep them as pets, though these voles are usually descendants of a generation of captive and domesticated voles.
Tips On Preventing A Future Vole Problem In Your Yard
Prevent voles by making your yard less habitable to them.
As we mentioned briefly above, prevention is key to any kind of successful pest control, especially when it comes to how to get rid of voles. Once voles have vacated your property, the next step you should take should be to ensure they don’t return.
Here are a few tips and tricks you can use for how to get rid of voles and keep them from returning.
- Fill Old Vole Burrows
Once the voles have gotten out of dodge, it’s important to go around and fill empty vole holes. Filling the burrows will not only help to repair your lawn but it will also help keep voles and other pests from returning.
- Invite Vole Predators
Cats, dogs, and large birds of prey like owls and hawks are natural vole predators. You can help keep voles from returning to your property by allowing these animals to stick around. In fact, you can even invite owls to nest on your property by installing an owl nesting box.
- Plant Vole-Repellent Plants
Experts have found that voles are repelled by several types of plants including daffodils, grape hyacinths, and italian arum. Plant some of these plants throughout your garden to help keep voles from wanting to dine there.
- Remove Bird Feeders
Voles are herbivores that eat plants, roots, bulbs, and tubers. They also munch on tree bark and seeds, so bird feeders full of seeds can attract voles to your yard. Remove bird feeders to help keep voles from returning.
- Keep Your Yard Tidy
Voles like landscapes that offer them great hiding places Trim shrubs and bushes and remove debris like wood piles where voles can hide. Try and rake up fallen leaves and dead grass as often as possible, and keep your lawn mowed short. It is also wise to use gardening mulch at a minimum and turn it often when it is being used.
Now, do you have any ideas or home remedies for how to get rid of voles in your yard or garden? We would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.