Moles vs. Voles

On the Farm

We noticed right away lots of little mounds of dirt and holes in the ground all over the property.
Holes in ground

Mounds on ground

Holes and mounds!

The question was…are these moles or voles making these mounds and holes?

Moles and voles both cause damage to yards. Because of their similarities, they are often confused for one another. One main difference between these animals is their diet.

Voles are herbivores. They feed on seeds, grass, plants, and the bark of trees. A vole looks like a mouse with a shorter tail. They are often called “field mice”.  Voles create tunnels through grass as they search for food. These appear as lines of dead grass in the soil that lead to a baseball-sized hole in the ground. There may be small pyramid-shaped cones near these holes. Voles reproduce rapidly, and live in colonies. They are often seen outside of their holes in search of food. Voles are rodents, and may gnaw on trees, structures, and other materials.

Moles are carnivorous, and eat grubs, earthworms, and other insects. Moles are larger than mice, and have paddle-like feet that allow them to swim through soil. They also have long pink noses.  Moles dig tunnels called “surface tunnels” directly beneath ground level. These tunnels are used for looking for worms and other grubs. From above, these tunnels resemble raised ridges in the ground, and are squishy if stepped on. Moles are solitary creatures that prefer to stay underground. It is unusual for multiple moles to inhabit a single yard.

We have seen several voles scurrying around while we eat dinner on our deck.  For that reason, we are thinking the culprits are voles.  However, that really does not explain the mounds.  So, maybe we have both!  I don’t really see any of the “surface tunnels” that the moles are known for and there are like NO worms here.  The ground is hard and dead…we have a lot of soil building to do here on the farm but I have some thoughts about that and will talk about that in a future blog post.

At least I can understand why there are so many hawks and owls…there is a never ending supply of rodents to eat.  I can hear voles running around when I go out into the pasture area.  It would be great to have some farm cats to help out with the voles but the neighbor said that the coyotes always get the cats.  I wonder if the chickens will like to get the voles as a treat!

I am kind of hoping to keep the pasture mowed down next spring/summer…this might make it harder for the voles to hide and easier for the birds of prey to get them.  We will see…that would be a LOT of mowing…

I guess we will have to get the fencing completed.  Then, we will get a livestock guardian dog.  Then, we could get the cats about the same time we get the chickens…most everything revolves around fencing in the property so that will be our next big farm project (but that probably won’t happen until spring 2019).  We are fortunate that the longest side of our property already borders the U of I Dairy and so there is a great fence there already.  The back of the property has a fence and it is good enough.  The areas that need fenced is the far side (which is relatively short) and then the “front yard”.  The front yard area, when you first drive in and where the chickens will be, is the biggest area that needs fencing.  We should be able to literally fence in our entire farm.  We just need to save the money to get it done.

No worries…we have lots of gardening projects to keep us busy until then…

Denise

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