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How To Identify a Vole Versus a Mouse


Do you know how to identify a vole, pictured above, versus a mouse? Both rodents are common pests that homeowners may deal with on their property, so it’s important to understand the key differences between the two species. While voles and mice look similar, there are also several differences in their appearance, lifestyle and behaviors that homeowners can use to tell them apart.

How To Identify a Vole Versus a Mouse

As a homeowner, being in the dark about the pests invading your property is frustrating. The best way to control unwelcome house guests is to educate yourself about what type of pest you are dealing with and how to treat them.

Common rodent species that are easy for homeowners to mix up are voles and mice. The good news is that learning how to identify a vole versus a mouse is pretty easy. Understanding a few key differences in their appearances, lifestyle and behavior can go a long way.

Vole Versus Mouse Appearance

Voles and mice have many similar features. However, the most obvious difference between a vole versus a mouse, pictured above, is the fact that voles are noticeably larger. In fact, they often weigh double what a mouse weighs.

In addition, voles typically have longer bodies than mice do. However, mice have longer tails. One of the best ways to quickly distinguish between a vole versus a mouse is to look at their tails.

Vole tails typically measure between one to two inches long while mouse tails measure between two and a half to six inches long. Another difference is that voles have hairy tails while mice have scaly, hairless tails.

Next, voles have stockier bodies while mice are more slender. Their heads are also rounder and they have blunt noses, as opposed to mice that have pointy noses. Mice also have large eyes and ears, while voles have small eyes and ears.

Vole Versus Mouse Lifestyle and Habitat

The biggest difference between the vole lifestyle versus the mouse lifestyle is their preferred habitat. Voles live primarily outdoors, and they prefer grassy areas, gardens and yards. They burrow into the soil and construct elaborate runways that serve as both their shelter and means to access their food sources.

Mice, on the other hand, live both indoors and outdoors. They are adaptable creatures that will set up their habitat wherever they can easily access food, water and shelter that keeps them safe from predators. In fact, their desire for a warm and safe shelter is often what leads them indoors.

House mice are known for building nests in attics, basements, wall voids, kitchen cabinets and other protected areas of the home.

Vole Versus Mouse Behavior and Diet

Both voles and mice are known for destroying or damaging their hosts’ property, and most of their damage is done during their search for food. However, voles and mice have different dietary preferences.

For example, voles are herbivores that prefer to feed on grasses, roots, bulbs and other vegetation. They often damage lawns, crops and gardens with their feeding and burrowing habits. One common sign of a vole infestation is chewed-up vegetation in your garden. In addition, you may also spot their runways in your yard.

Mice have larger diets than voles because they are omnivores. They will eat almost anything they can get their paws on, but grains, seeds, nuts and berries are extremely attractive to them.

While they prefer plant-based food sources, they will still eat meat and dairy products if that is what is available to them. Mice will also feed on small insects if they can’t access more preferable types of food.

A common sign of a mouse infestation is spotting gnaw marks on food containers and packaging. You may also see mouse droppings along the pathway between their nest and their food source. Finally, mice are known for shredding paper products and fabric to create their nests, and they often raid homes to find the perfect nesting materials.

Whether you are dealing with a vole or mouse infestation, the best and most efficient way to control them is with the help of pest control professionals. Expert services can identify the type of pest you’re dealing with and effectively treat them.

a mouse on a rock

Will Mice Leave if There’s No Food?

Mice are resourceful rodents that have large appetites, and they spend much of their time searching for food. Many homeowners assume that simply removing their food source will cause mice to leave their homes. Unfortunately, that is not completely true.

While removing their food source is a great way to deter mice and limit their activity, it will not fully control them. Instead, it should be treated as an additional tactic that is complementary to professional pest control methods.

When mice cannot find food, they will be more susceptible to professional treatments. However, it is important to remember that mice move indoors in search of water and shelter in addition to food. That is why removing their food source is not a fool-proof way to kick mice out of your home.

How to Deter Mice

In addition to eliminating their food sources, there are other effective ways to deter mice from invading your home. For example, sealing up entry points into your home is a great place to start. Mice only need a dime-size opening to get inside your house, so it’s important to do a thorough inspection of your home and identify all the places they could make their entrance.

Next, keeping your home clean and clutter-free can eliminate hiding spots for mice. You should also remove any standing water or leaks that could provide them with a water source.

Finally, keep the vegetation around your home trimmed back and clean. Overgrown trees and bushes can help mice access your roof and find entry points into your home.

The best way to deter mice is by working with a professional pest control service. An expert can conduct a thorough inspection of your home and advise you on the best prevention methods for your particular situation.

a cat in cat litter

Does Cat Litter Keep Mice Away?

Cats and mice have always had a predator and prey relationship, so having a cat on your property may help lower the mouse population. Some people even wonder if cats can smell mice. However, simply having cats in your home is not enough to fully control a mouse infestation.

Another common misconception is the idea that cat litter can keep mice away. The myth comes from the idea that cat litter spreads the smell of cats throughout your home, which encourages rodents to stay away. While cat litter may intimidate mice, this method has been proven to not be effective at controlling mice.

In addition, a single cat is not enough to control a fast-growing mouse population. Mice reproduce rapidly, which means that a small infestation can quickly turn into a major problem for homeowners. Professional pest control services are required to control an entire mouse population.

Another reason the cat litter method doesn’t work is that mice can simply find another place in the home to seek shelter. They will set up camp somewhere that feels far enough away from the cat litter to keep them safe from their predator.

In conclusion, while the presence of a cat or cat litter may make mice uncomfortable, it will not completely deter them from invading your home.

Instead, it’s best to use multiple mice prevention methods, such as sealing off entry points, trimming vegetation, eliminating food sources and the other tips listed above. All of these methods to deter mice complement professional pest control services.

Manage Your Pest Population With Professional Pest Control Services

Mouse and vole prevention requires a multi-pronged approach. The best way to deter mice is to work with a professional pest control service. Experts can advise you on the right steps and offer effective solutions to kick rodents out of your home.

ABC Can Get Rid of Pests

Whether you’re dealing with mice or voles, it can be time-consuming and frustrating. Instead of trying to get rid of moles on your own, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our pest control professionals will create a customized control plan, so you can enjoy your yard and get rid of mice outdoors.

Holt Myers

Holt joined ABC in 2021 as the Electrical & Appliance Operations Manager before transitioning to Division Manager for Pest Control. Before ABC, Holt worked as a Project Manager and Superintendent in Construction. Holt also served in the US Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. Holt is a member of NPMA’s PestVets, Stewards of the Wild and Texas Wildlife Association. Holt is an avid outdoorsman, who loves to travel and spend time with his wife and daughter.

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