Monday, November 13, 2006

abc along V is for Vole

We have many voles around the riverrim. They reproduce easily, and can start when they are only one month old, and then have several litters a year. Voles typically have a litter of 6 to seven young, and the female can breed immediately after giving birth. It is a good thing that they have a short life span, and normally do not survive in the wild for more than a year.

I see them frequently, and this one was in the garden. I assume that it had tunneled under the fence, and needed to be relocated. Voles can do a lot of damage to the roots and tubers of certain plants. When we had the chance, we caught it while it was wedged next to a raised bed. I say "we" because it was a joint effort between two humans and a cat.

This was not the first time we have caught a vole. Many years ago while shoveling snow, we shoveled several voles...setting them aside in a wash tub for the toddler to observe ...only to be horrified when they attacked each other. It was at that time that I discovered that voles are cannibalistic.

Voles are different from moles and shrews. Moles have prominent front feet with claws to help them dig. Shrews have more of a pointed nose.

The vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, was observed and photographed in the jar before relocating to the wooded area. We have enough predators in the way of owls, snakes, fox coyote and cat to keep the vole population in check, so that I don't have to...

8 comments:

Cathy said...

Good V! I don't have voles here and amazingly - sometimes I miss seeing them.

amanda said...

I am so thankful we don't have voles (at least that I know of) around here! Cannabalistic!!??!

Judy said...

The bad thing is they (the fox, owls etc) are so busy keeping the voles in check that they miss out on the chipmunks.

gtr said...

That is ONE annoyed looking vole! Ha! We have tons of them around our place, too, and Lutsen-cat takes her turn being a predator.

We let her hunt because she prefers voles to anything else (ie no birds) and we've had quite a garden problem. Otherwise, we don't do any other control.

Judith said...

The voles do damage to plants in my garden--I turn into Mr. McGregor just thinking about voles (& moles). And yet, when I look at your amazing photos, I mellow. Doesn't make sense. Our dog, Jasper, loves to pounce on voles when they tunnel through the snow across the lawn, making their way to my precious garden. In spring I find voles quite dead in the lawn after the snow melts. I put Juicy Fruit gum in the mole/vole holes--supposedly they chew the gum and leave earth.

Anonymous said...

Shiva the hunter cat regularly catches both voles and shrews -- she eats the voles and leaves the shrews for me...

Spinner Gal said...

No voles here, just annoying gophers that do enough damage for everyone.

Neat pics, my son loved seeing a vole.

Brigid said...

I think English voles must be a different animal! Do you know Ratty in The Wind in the Willows(Kenneth Graham)? He is a water vole, though they are more commonly known as water rats here. There are other land living voles too but I've never heard of them congregating in large numbers or being cannibals.

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