Field Vole

Microtus agrestis

I was getting some excercise and walking along the margin of a local farmer’s field when I caught a glimpse of this lovley little Field Vole dart across my path. How I managed to keep my eyes on it I don’t know, but I tracked it into the field to get this single photograph of it. It was very difficult for me at the time for I had badly broken my right wrist and it was strapped up, and the Field Mouse was so quick it soon vanished amongst the vegetation.

Also called the ‘Short-tailed Vole’, it has brownish fur with pale greyish undersides, and a short tail. Similar to the Bank Vole (Myodes glareolus), which has darker, more chestnut coloured fur, a longer tail and larger ears. Head and body length 9-13cm. Tail length 2.5-4.5cm.

It makes shallow burrows underground, and forms runways through the grass marking a trail made by an unpleasant smell, which birds of prey can detect via the UV light which emits from the trails. They breed rapidly, with four or five litters between March and December. The Field Vole is an important food source to a large number of meat eaters, such as owls, kestrels, foxes, and stoats. It mainly feeds on roots and grasses, but will also scavenge for food, and eat tree bark in the winter. It can live up to 2 years.

Found in dunes, moorland, woodland, hedgerows. It likes damp grassy places like marshes or river banks. A native species and locally common over much of Great Britain.

Photograph taken March 2012, local field, Staffordshire.

6 thoughts on “Field Vole

  1. Sounds like this photo was taken under duress! We have voles here (along with mice and pocket gophers). A family of foxes shared our yard one glorious spring. The mother was adept at catching voles. She’d line them up on the road, one carcass after another, until she had a large mouthful, then bring them home to her 6 young. Great grey owls also visit our yard, sit on the pole fence, and listen to the grass. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds wonderful that you have nature right there on your doorstep. I have foxes visit my back garden, and used to have a badger that used to eat peanuts just outside my patio door, but I have not seen it for a good while.

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      1. Are your foxes friendly? Or have they been harassed too often? We returned one day to find a female fox had given birth under one of our sheds — she raised her pups right in the yard and was never really concerned about showing herself to us. It was a remarkable several weeks. And as for badgers … none right around here, as we are in the woods. But I used to live on the grasslands and did encounter one a couple of times. They definitely have an attitude problem and one is wise to give them all the space they want. 🙂

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      2. The foxes here are very shy and nervous, and do suffer a lot of bad press, but its great when I spy one out back, mostly during the dark hours. Although some years ago we did have them sunbathing on the garage roof! I have pics somewhere. It must have been a joy to see the young pups grow up in your yard. :0)

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      3. They are shy here too, at least most of the ones we’ve encountered. Part of that concern is for coyotes — foxes are on their menu. We happened to look out the window one sunny afternoon and through the trees saw 2 foxes playing and tumbling around in the underbrush. Priceless!

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