The Difference Between Voles and Moles
Last updated: 6/8/2021
Estimated read time: 3.5 minutes
If you’ve noticed mounds of dirt in your yard, tree root-type lines in your lawn or garden, or dying grass, perennials, or shrubbery, you may have an infestation of either ground moles or voles. While neither of these small mammals poses a direct threat to your family, they can severely damage your yard and even transmit disease through urine and feces.
Whether you have a mole or vole problem, to permanently get rid of them, it helps to first identify which of the two lawn pests you are dealing with. Here are a few characteristics that you can use to tell them apart:
What do moles look like?
Ground moles have black, cream, brown, or gray fur, generally weigh between 4-6 ounces, and are about 6-8 inches in length. Moles can easily be identified by their long, pointed, hairless snouts, large flipper-like feet with prominent claws, and eyes and ears eyes and ears so small that they are not easily visible.
What do voles look like?
Voles are smaller than ground moles, weighing about 1 ounce and measuring around 3-5 inches. With thick brown or gray fur, voles look similar to field mice, though voles have smaller eyes and ears, stouter bodies, and shorter tails.
Are moles blind?
No, moles are not blind, though they are colorblind and are only able to make out shapes and movements. Instead, moles rely on their strong sense of touch, using their snout and rounded feet.
Are voles blind?
No, voles are also not blind, though they supplement their poor eyesight using their small body shape and sharp claws to guide them through the soil.
When are moles most active?
Ground moles are active day and night, more commonly in spring and summer after a rainstorm. Despite the common misconception that moles hibernate, during colder months, they dig their tunnels further from the ground to avoid frozen soil.
When are voles most active?
Similar to moles, voles are active at all times of the year, day and night. Instead of hibernating, they commonly forage under the snow, which is why you won’t notice any damage until spring when the snow has melted.
What do moles eat?
Moles are carnivores and feed on common garden insects, such as snails, earthworms, spiders, grubs, and more.
What do voles eat?
Voles are herbivores, meaning they have a plant-based diet with a focus on plant roots, grass, bulbs, tubers, vegetables, tree bark, and more.
What do mole tunnels look like?
A ground mole digs tunnels underground, usually around 10 inches under the surface. They spend most of their lives underground, though they generally enter and exit their tunnels through mole hills.
What do vole tunnels look like?
While some types of voles burrow tunnels as deep as 12 inches, most create shallow tunnels to give them easy access to the roots systems of plants. The tunnels have openings around 1.5-2 inches that are typically hidden beneath shrubs or spreading plants.
Both of these pests cause similar damage, the end result being a lawn that typically cannot be repaired.
What does mole damage look like?
In their search for insects, ground moles can damage grass, flower beds, and tear up tree and shrub roots, though the most obvious yard damage includes volcano-shaped surface mounds, which cause cosmetic damage.
What does vole damage look like?
Voles feed on plants and gnaw on roots, leading to many plants and grasses dying off. While they spend a lot of time in their deep, underground tunnels in the summer, they commonly burrow directly under thick snow covers, causing severe damage to your lawn.
How to get rid of moles and voles
While you can try to protect your yard and plants from ground moles and voles by mowing your lawn regularly, clearing heavy vegetation covering and woodpiles, or planting natural repellents like daffodils, these methods are not very effective and don’t offer lasting protection.
The easiest and most effective way to get rid of moles and voles is to call a lawn care company like Blades of Green. Using a combination of specialized bait, traps, and repellents, we offer recurring mole and vole removal services.