Moles vs Voles: The Differences You Need to Know.

Ask a random person what a vole is. There’s a very high chance that the answer you get would be meant for moles.

In fact, some people may even throw your question right back at you. But don’t blame them. Because you see, both moles and voles are troublesome pests that damage our gardens in similar ways.

And then again, they both look like rodents. Although, one is and the other is not. To help you tell them apart, we’ve compiled some of their major differences in this article.

Add to that, we have highlighted the most effective ways that you can rid your garden of both moles and voles. Let’s begin, shall we?

Moles and Voles
Upper image: Moles Lower Image: Voles

What’s the Difference Between Moles and Voles?

The “V” and the “M” in their names aren’t the only difference between moles and voles. Although later we’ll show you how to use these two letters to tell them apart.

Likewise, you will realize that these two critters eat different foods. They live in different areas. And they belong to different families of animals.

That said, let’s analyze their differences using the following taglines.

  • What Do Moles and Voles Eat?

Moles are carnivores. That means, they love to eat meat, especially bugs. In fact, the National Wildlife Research once said that moles can eat as many insects as their own weight in one day.

Yet, that doesn’t stop them from eating insects again tomorrow. Such insects can include beetles, grubs, the larvae of all these insects, and others as well.

Sometimes, moles even go as far as eating earthworms, tiny arthropods, like spiders, slugs, and millipedes. Even though, they have to dig deep into the soil to get their prize. It is through this digging that they hamper our gardens and our precious plants.

On the other hand, voles are herbivores. That means they are vegetarians that love to eat the roots, stems, and leaves of grasses, bulbs, tubers, and other plants with weak stems.

Sometimes, voles even eat the bark and fruits of some big trees. When they’ve had enough, they would dig surface tunnels and a chamber of holes to save excess seeds for the rainy day. Like moles, it is this habit of digging (and feeding on plants) that damages our gardens and turfs.

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  • Moles and Voles Identification – What Do Moles and Voles Look Like? 
A vole

Moles and Voles hail from different families of animals. So, it’s only normal for them to look quite different.

In most cases, voles look more like mice. Because like mice, they are rodents with rounded ears, tiny eyes, and hefty bodies.

However, that picture is what many people think of when they talk about moles as well. But this is far from being true. Although, we understand that the small size of moles and the color tone of their skin is quite deceiving.

So, you need to look beyond that and focus more on a mole’s face. If you do, you will notice that you won’t see the eyes or the ears. Because unlike voles, moles’ eyes and ears are hidden under the fur to protect them from dust and dirt as the moles burrow into the soil.

To burrow, moles use their big, armored, and clawed forefeet. This, of course, is another brilliant feature that gives moles away.

Add to that, moles also have protruded heads and snouts. And unlike the eyes and ears, you can see their nose and mouth with your naked eyes.

But before we wrap this up, let’s also mention that while voles are rodents, moles are mammals. And that means a lot of other differences that we’ll leave for a science class.

  • When do moles and voles come out?

The thing is, both moles and voles remain active throughout the year. However, moles prefer moist, soft and rich loamy soil because it is very easy to burrow.

This soil is even much easier to burrow during early mornings or evenings and in seasons like spring or fall. Although, they are also active during winters. It’s only that they prefer to remain under the frost line where they continue digging.

As for voles, they remain under the snow covers during winter where they also continue to make unique surface tunnels with escape burrows. From there, they feed on the underground food reserves they have.

But compared to moles, voles are more active at dawn, dusk, and during spring when they come out to mate.

  • What Tells Apart the Holes and Tunnels Made by Voles and Those Made by Moles?

Moles build deep tunnels with elevated ridges without visible openings. That way, they resemble small volcanoes made with sand. And they do this with their armored forefeet.

On the other hand, voles make superficial tunnels with open burrows and without elevated ridges. So, if you see a different tunnel, then your lawn pest is probably not a vole.

  • Moles Vs Voles Damage.

Both moles and voles cause severe damage to our lawns and garden. But they do this in slightly different ways.

In the case of moles, their burrowing habit is the major problem. Because as they dig, they disrupt the evenness of the landscape. One way or another, this affects the system of roots that grows in the affected soil. Not only that, mole mounds make our perfect garden looks unkempt and unhealthy.

However, voles do a lot more damage. Because they do not only disturb the evenness of the soil; they also eat the roots and stems of the plants in your garden. Due to this, the affected plants would gradually begin to die.

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What Repels Moles and Voles Without Killing Them?

Castor oil

 Castor Oil; that’s the only natural product we can vouch for. In fact, it is one of the major ingredients used in commercial repellents for moles and voles. However, we don’t mean the modern and deodorized castor.

Instead, the best repellent for moles and voles is the old-school, super-stinky, and un-refined castor oil. Yes, that same one that gives you a sickening feeling when you break lamps. You can also get it from stores in liquid form or as granules.

If the ones you get are granules, you need to liquify them but avoid heavy dilution. Once you have it, apply it as needed.

FAQs About Moles Vs Voles.

  • Will Mole Killers Also Kill Voles?

Most likely not. And that’s because of the wide difference in what they eat and the soil depth that you can find them. Remember that voles make surface tunnels. Whereas, moles dig even deeper.

Although out there, some people say that some Hi-Yield Mole Baits and Mole pellets can kill voles as well. But we recommend that you look for vole-specific baits to get rid of your voles. This will save time and of course, money.

  • What Attracts Moles and Voles?

Because moles are carnivorous, anything meaty tends to attract them to your garden. Some of these include adult insects, insect larvae, grubs, and tiny arthropods like spiders, millipedes, and even centipedes.

As for voles, their primary attractants are the very plants that make up your garden. The ones on a vole’s most-wanted list include ornamental plants like Iris, Snowdrops, Daffodils, and Hyacinths.

Also, you need to note that gardens that are nurtured near swamps or lakes are even more prone to vole attacks.

  • Can Your Garden Be a Home to Both Voles and Moles at the Same Time?

Well… yes. In fact, they co-exist quite well because of the difference in their habit and habitat. And this is how it goes:

Moles will attack the little animals in your garden and damage the landscape with their deep tunnels. Whereas, voles will eat your garden plants and reside in shallow tunnels. Sometimes, voles even use the tunnels made by moles to save their effort.

However, if you don’t want this, you will have to devise control strategies that can get rid of them both and at the same time.

  • Are mole and vole baits poisonous to cats?

The thing is; several baits for moles and voles out there contain a toxic compound named Zinc phosphide. It kills the voles and moles by reacting with their stomach acids. This reaction produces a gas that also eventually kills them.

However, to lure the voles and moles to these baits, you need to mask the baits with a tasty scent. To your pets, this smells yummy as well. But if they eat it, they can suffer the same fate as the targeted moles and voles.

So, yes; mole and vole baits can also poison your pets like cats and dogs. As such, you need to keep your pets far from these things.

 Final Words.

Oftentimes, many people do wonder why some other people are curious about the kind of pests that trouble their garden. They believe it’s best to just use a multi-purpose pesticide and be done with it.

Well… in the case of moles and voles, knowing the difference would save you a lot of money. Because sometimes, even multi-purpose mole-vole killers don’t work.

When that happens, you need alternatives. But with the knowledge we shared in this article, you already know that a vole will probably fall victim to a bait mixed with peanut butter. Whereas, a mole will not.

Because as we’ve said earlier, moles are meat-eating mammals while voles are vegetarian rodents. That said, let’s cap the pen for now.



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