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Voles, also sometimes known as meadow mice, are a type of rodent that can become very invasive in areas where they are not native. They have short, stocky bodies and weigh only 2-3 ounces. The head is usually pointed with large eyes and small ears. Their fur is typically reddish-brown on the upper side and grey or white on the underside.
Voles are particularly destructive because they reproduce very quickly, with female voles having up to five litters per year with between 3-6 pups each time! Populations can grow exponentially soon, leading to vast numbers of voles within an area in a relatively brief time. The population growth and their ability to cause considerable destruction to make them incredibly invasive pests that need to be controlled for the safety and well-being of humans and other species.
Voles are considered to be an invasive species because of their ability to reproduce and spread in a new environment quickly. They have no natural predators in their new habitat, meaning they can increase rapidly and out-compete native species for resources. Their high reproductive rate also allows them to recover from short-term population declines and continue to thrive. Additionally, they can eat a wide variety of foods, enabling them to survive in harsh conditions and colonize habitats faster than many native species.
Voles cause extensive damage to gardens, yards, pastures, hayfields, seedling trees planted for forestry purposes, and other areas where vegetation is important. Voles feed on many plants, including grains like wheat and oats and vegetables like potatoes and carrots. In agricultural areas, they can strip fields of crops in no time flat. They also create tunnels throughout yards which can damage lawns or lead to soil erosion in certain situations. Furthermore, voles will often eat away at tree bark which can kill saplings or young trees if left unchecked.
Some common indications of a vole infestation include shallow burrows near foundations or around trees and shrubs; damaged plants or crops such as tiny seedlings with gnawed stems; runways through dense vegetation; tracks on snow or mud; and piles of dirt-covered plant material near their nesting sites. Additionally, droppings will be present near the entrances of burrows since voles feed mainly on seeds, roots, and other vegetation materials found close to their nests.