Any digging animal can be problematic, especially when they infiltrate our gardens and lawns. Moles and voles are particularly damaging and frustrating because they can damage tree roots and foundation, and are especially prone to sifting through the healthiest of lawns, meaning those who really take pride and care in their landscaping suffer most.
Unfortunately, the methods you take to solve a vole vs mole problem will depend on which animal you are dealing with. So, how do you know if you are dealing with a vole vs mole?
Today, we are going to talk about how to tell these two furry pests apart, which behavior and habits distinguish them, and how you can tackle your vole vs mole problem head on.
Let’s get started.
A Vole Vs Mole – What Is A Vole?
Voles are rodents that resemble mice. They dig holes and can be problematic to lawns and gardens.
Voles, sometimes called ground moles, field mice, meadow mowls, and meadow mice, are burrowing rodents that can be found across Northern America. They closely resemble mice, though they can be a bit larger, and tend to feed on vegetation like plant material, grasses, tree bark and roots.
The most common voles you may come across in North America include the prairie vole and meadow vole. While these furry garden invaders do resemble mice, they do not typically cause problems indoors and tend to stay outside, where their food source is abundant and they are free to dig tunnels, reproduce, and live their very best vole lives.
While voles can be problematic, especially when they get out of control in your yard or garden, it’s important to remember that voles do have an important role to play in our ecosystem. In fact, in smaller numbers, voles can help replenish our lawns and gardens, keeping them lush and healthy by dispersing nutrients throughout the soil.
Vole Anatomy, Characteristics, And Diet
Voles are herbivores who primarily eat plants and grass.
Wondering how to tell the difference between a vole vs mole? Let’s take a look at some of the distinguishing characteristics of the common vole.
Vole Size And General Appearance:
Voles look very similar to mice, especially if you’re not sure what to look for to distinguish them. Like mice, voles are between five and eight inches long when you include the tail.
Still, voles may appear slightly larger than mice and have a stockier build. In general, Voles have thick brown or gray fur. They also have shorter tails and big, round eyes. Their ears are round and somewhat smaller than mouse ears.
When telling the difference between voles vs moles, one of the biggest variations is diet. Voles are herbivores that feed mostly on vegetation including grass, grass roots, bulbs, tubers, herbs, seeds, and tree bark.
Voles are not the biggest fans of thick forests, mostly because the tree roots and other plant matter make it too difficult for them to dig their holes and make their chambers. For the most part, voles prefer meadows, pastures, fields, and lawns. Voles are social rodents and can live with several other voles at a time, so it’s easy for them to overpopulate a single lawn.
While they can be beneficial in small numbers, the biggest issue homeowners have with voles is that they reproduce so rapidly. In fact, a female vole can produce between five to ten litters a year, with each litter containing between three and six babies.
Although most baby voles are born between the spring and summer months, voles have no true reproduction season, and breed all year round.
Signs Of Vole Activity In Your Yard:
Trying to tell if you have a vole vs mole?
Unlike moles, voles dig flatter holes in fields and lawns that are often free of large mounds of dirt. Voles also like to dig shallow runways that look almost like mazes in fields and lawns, and will dig chambers underground to store seeds, sleep, and reproduce.
A Vole Vs Mole – What Is A Mole?
Moles live underground and prefer to live solitary, isolated lives.
Unlike voles, moles are actually not rodents at all and instead belong to the mammal family known as insectivores. You can tell a vole vs mole often by size. Moles are usually larger than voles, with very small eyes and ears. They also have pointed noses to help them dig.
Moles are reclusive mammals that prefer to live solitary lives in their tunnels. They dig much deeper than voles and their holes are made obvious by volcanic looking mounds of dirt popping up in yards and fields.
And while moles can be problematic in large numbers, they too play their part in keeping our ecosystem happy and healthy. In fact, moles are wonderful aerators and help keep gardens and lawns flourishing. They also eat common garden pests and provide an important food source to their natural predators like owls, foxes, hawks, and more.
Mole Anatomy, Characteristics, And Diet
Moles are omnivores who prefer to eat insects, grubs, and especially earthworms.
Identifying a vole vs mole doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, these two rodents actually look and behave quite differently. Let’s learn more about how to tell the difference between a vole vs mole.
Mole Size And General Appearance:
A mole’s body can appear larger than a vole’s, growing between 4.5 and 6.25 inches long. Moles are easy to distinguish from most animals due to their somewhat bizarre appearance up close. They have fur that is dense and described as velvity, and they have very large front feet with long claws designed for digging and burrowing.
You can also distinguish between a vole vs mole by looking at a mole’s bald, pointed snouts and “lack of” ears and eyes. Actually, a mole’s eyes and ears are so small that they are hardly visible, leading many to incorrectly assume that moles are blind and deaf. Moles also have short furry tails.
As the name insectivorous suggests, moles survive on insects and grubs. This is important to remember when comparing a vole vs mole problem.
In fact, moles can eat between 70% to 100% of their body weight in worms alone! Earthworms are their favorite food, and moles have been known to store live earthworms in their underground chambers for future meals.
Constant diggers, moles never stop excavating. This is one of the reasons they can be so problematic to gardens and lawns. While they don’t feed on vegetation including bulbs and tree bark, like their vole counterparts, moles do dig quite deeply and can cause disruptions to tree and plant life.
Moles dig deep runways in the earth and live reclusive in chambers beneath the ground. When it comes to vole vs mole holes, a mole’s hole may be more obvious as moles tend to kick out excess dirt and soil, leaving behind large mounds of dirt wherever they have been digging.
Although moles are more reclusive than voles, they do become active when it’s time to reproduce. Reproduction is typically between February and April, and moles can be quite active during this time. That said, female moles only reproduce once a year and produce litters of between two and six babies.
Signs Of Mole Activity In Your Yard:
When it comes to vole vs mole digging, keep in mind that moles dig much deeper than voles, so you may not see shallow runways the way you would when you have vole activity in your yard. The biggest sign of mole activity are usually large mounds of dirt and grassy areas that sink when you walk across them.
You may also notice raised tunnels in your lawn, where moles have dug out runways closer to the surface.
Identifying A Vole Vs Mole Problem
One of the easiest ways to identify if you have a mole or vole is looking at the holes.
As we mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to identify if you are dealing with a vole vs mole in your yard is to study the holes.
Remember, voles dig shallow runways at the surface and often leave flatter holes speckling your lawn. Moles, on the other hand, leave behind large mounds of cone shaped dirt. Many describe these mounds as volcanic in appearance.
One of the most telling differences between a vole vs mole are the holes they dig. This video shows you what to look for and how to identify vole vs mole holes.
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While there are some products you can use regardless of if you have a vole vs mole problem, moles in particular can be tricky to deal with. Let’s take a look at some of the best methods you can use to get rid of vole vs mole issues in your yard.
Vole Vs Mole Removal – Best Products For Vole Removal
There are a few different ways to treat and remedy a vole problem.
As we mentioned briefly above, your method of treatment will vary depending on if you are dealing with a vole vs mole.
Voles reproduce much more quickly than moles and cause more damage to plants like bulbs and garden vegetation. That said, you may need to use some particular methods and products to get rid of them.
Let’s take a look at some of the best products you can use to take care of vole problems in your yard and garden.
Nature’s Mace Castor Oil Vole Repellent
When it comes to vole vs mole problems, castor oil is the magic solution. Castor oil is specifically designed to help repel voles and moles from lawns. We like it because it’s a completely organic and safe way to get rid of voles, meaning you can use it around children and pets confidently.
This is also a humane way to keep voles and moles at bay as it doesn’t harm or kill them and simply works to repel them.
MouseX EcoClear Vole Pellets
If you’re having a particularly pesky vole problem, you may need to turn to vole granules and pellets to poison and control them. If that’s the case, we recommend you take a look at MouseX EcoClear Vole Pellets.
This is a non-toxic, environmental-friendly way to kill and eliminate vole problems while also keeping your home, family, pets, and livestock safe.
Kensizer Small Animal Catch and Release Trap
If you prefer to use a catch and release trap to relocate voles, we like the Kensizer trap. You can use it both indoors and outdoors, so it’s also great if you have a mouse, rat, or squirrel problem. You can use this trap even if you’re not sure if you have a vole vs mole, because it works for both.
The trap uses a pedal-like device that traps voles as they enter, keeping them safe and secure until you are ready to relocate them. If you do choose to use this trap, we recommend you drive at least three to five miles away from your property before setting voles free.
VOLE KING Plant Baskets
Because controlling voles can be difficult and they are such a common pest, you may opt to use a protective plant basket in conjunction with a vole repellent. These baskets help to protect gardens and plants from vole and mole destruction.
That said, the baskets do not repel voles so we would recommend using this product along with one of the repellents on this list.
I Must Garden Vole Repellent
Last on our list of vole repellents is a professional strength repellent by I Must Garden. This is a strong and effective repellent that works regardless of if you are dealing with a vole vs mole. It also works on skunks, gophers, and even armadillos.
It is made with all natural ingredients and is safe for your yard, garden, children, and pets. We also like that this product is environmentally friendly as well and will not harm other beneficial wildlife.
Vole vs Mole Removal – Best Products For Mole Removal
There are several ways to treat and remedy a mole problem.
Moles may produce less quickly than voles and even be more reclusive, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get out of control and cause problems to your yard or garden.
Unfortunately, because a mole’s diet is different than that of a vole and because they dig deeper, they can be a bit trickier to get rid of. Let’s look at some of our favorite products for mole removal in the yard.
Tomcat Mole and Gopher Repellent
Specifically designed to target moles and gophers, this repellent works best when mixed with castor oil and water to effectively keep moles and other digging pests at bay.
It uses ground penetrating technology and creates a foul smell and taste that moles hate, deterring them from wanting to dig in your lawn. One order can reach up to 4,000 square feet and the repellent is safe to use in your lawn and garden. However, it should be used with caution around children and pets so read the directions carefully.
Solar Mole Repellents
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If you are looking for a safe and natural way to eliminate moles on your property, you may want to take a look at these solar mole repellents by DZ Services. You simply embed them into the soil of your lawn or garden, and the solar powered repellents work using sound deterrents that moles and other digging pests dislike.
This product works to protect up to 5,600 square feet and can even last for five days without sun, which is important if you live somewhere that is often overcast.
And because this device uses solar power and sonic waves to repel moles, you won’t have to worry about using it in areas where children and pets play. Best of all, it works regardless of if you have a vole vs mole problem.
Victor Mole Trap
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Depending on your vole vs mole problem, you may need to use a mole trap to help eliminate the damage being done to your yard. This mole trap works quickly to kill moles and is weather resistant and reusable.
However, it can harm children and pets if they get a hold of it so use it with caution and keep it away from little hands and sniffing noses.
Catch And Release Live Mole Trap
If you prefer to use live traps when dealing with a vole vs mole issue, we recommend this catch and release trap by Fasmov. This trap uses a spring loaded door and is made with sturdy, tightly woven mesh that keeps you and the mole safe during transportation or relocation.
However, when using a live trap, we do recommend you drive at least five miles away to relocate them so they won’t be able to find their way back. Again, you can use this trap regardless of if you are dealing with a vole vs mole.
Repellex Mole Repellent
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Another mole repellent we recommend is this repellent that uses the active ingredient castor oil to repel moles, voles, and gophers. It is safe to use whether you have a vole vs mole problem, and is good for use in gardens and in lawns and provides 90 days of coverage. This product also uses ground penetrating technology to deter other digging pests.
It can be dangerous for children and pets and should be used carefully, so make sure you read the directions and use it with caution to ensure everyone is safe and the product works effectively.
Best Home Remedies To Deal With A Vole Vs. Mole
Both moles and voles hate castor oil, so it works as a good home remedy to repel them.
When it comes to voles vs moles and trying to figure out how to get rid of either, the most common ingredient you will come across is castor oil. Castor oil is a popular repellent that gets rid of many pests. Luckily, castor oil isn’t the only vole vs mole repellent that works.
Let’s take a look at some home remedies to help you save your garden and yard from rodents, regardless of if you’re looking at a vole vs mole.
- Caster Oil
Since castor oil is so easy to come by and such an effective tool used to get rid of voles and moles, it comes as no surprise it tops our list of home remedies. Pouring pure castor oil into vole and mole holes can help deter them and keep them from coming back.
- Eliminate Their Food Source
Eliminating the food source will be different depending on if you’re dealing with a vole vs mole. For moles, eliminating food sources like grubs, earthworms, and other insects will help to keep them from digging up your yard. Voles, on the other hand, are herbivores.
Keeping your yard mowed short and using weed control can help reduce vole activity. You can reduce or compromise their food source by planting vole-repellent plants, which we have listed below.
- Plant Mole and Vole Repellent Plants
Euphorbia Lathyris, also known as Gopher Serge, is a powerful plant repellent that is especially beneficial for repelling moles. We should note that this plant can cause irritation to people and be toxic to pets, so use it carefully.
Other plants that repel moles include Caster Bean, Narcissus, and Crown Imperial plants. Voles in particular don’t like daffodils, grape hyacinths, and Italian arum plants.
- Make Noise
Most wild animals are skittish and won’t like super active areas that feel unsafe or are alive with human or predator activity. Regardless of if you’ve got a vole vs mole problem, making noise and being active in your yard will help keep these pests away.
- Ammonia, Mothballs, Or Chlorine Bleach
This is a home remedy you should obviously use with extreme caution. All three of the above chemicals are strong and can be toxic to humans and pets. That said, their strong odor can help reduce and repel moles and voles from your yard or garden.
To use, experts recommend pouring your ingredient of choice into a mole or vole hole. This may require several applications to work effectively, and you should use it with caution around gardens and plants as well.
Fast Facts About Voles And Moles Voles and moles live very different lifestyles and cause different problems.
- Moles Are Often Blamed For Vole Activity
Poor moles, always getting the short end of the stick. These guys are often blamed for eating bulbs and other plant material, which destroys gardens. In fact, moles eat insects and grubs. It’s the voles you have to worry about when it comes to your plants!
- Voles Are Related To Hamsters
If you think the vole looks a little familiar, you’re right! These cuties (let’s admit it, they’re cute) are closely related to our furry pocket pet, the hamster!
- Some Voles Are Monogamous
Did you know that there are vole species out there that are monogamous? Although their lifespan in the wild is only about three to six months, we still think it’s cute that some species of vole are loyal till death.
- Moles Aren’t Blind Or Deaf
It’s a common misconception that moles are blind. And though they do spend most of their time underground, they can still see and hear. Their ears and eyes are just super small, making it hard for humans to see them with our naked eye.
- Moles Can Smell In Stereo
It sounds futuristic or like some kind of superpower, but it’s true. Moles can detect and determine the exact direction an odor is coming from. Worms beware!
So, we hope you now have a better idea of how to tell a vole vs a mole. What methods do you think are best for vole vs mole removal? We would love to hear your thoughts. Let us know your opinions 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.