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What is the Difference Between a Mouse and a Vole?

Updated on: February 28, 2021

Homeowners take pride in keeping their yards clean and well-kept. But these gardens are often susceptible to attacks by different pests. If there’s a tiny and furry pest scurrying in the lawn and destroying the plant, you might be dealing with mice or voles.

So what’s the difference between mice and voles? Voles are often mistaken as field mice because their appearances are quite similar. However, there are subtle differences in their bodies that help tell them apart. Mice and voles also have different habits and preferences when it comes to diet and habitat. These animals also cause different structural damages to a home.

Mouse or Vole: Which Pest is Infesting Your Yard?

Every year, around 21 million Americans experience rodent infestations in different parts of the property. Although the majority of the infestations occur in the kitchen, lawns are also a favorite for these pesky creatures. But aside from mice and rats that commonly invade houses, voles are another species of rodents that cause damages to yards.

Different rodents require different exclusion methods, which is why it’s important to identify the animal infesting the yard first. Here’s how to accurately differentiate between mouse and vole:

AppearanceA mouse has a long tail that’s almost as long as its slender body.Voles have a similar physique to mice, but their tails are significantly shorter. Their bodies are also stocky instead of slender.
DietMice are opportunistic feeders that consume anything available to them.Voles are herbivores that feed on grains, seeds, and different types of plants.
Nesting HabitHouse mice typically build nests inside houses and other man-made properties.Voles are rarely found inside homes. They typically inhabit grassy areas, like lawns and gardens.
DamagesThese rodents have strong teeth that chew through almost anything. They weaken the building’s foundation, destroy pipes, and chew on electric wires.The main problem that homeowners have with voles is that these rodents eat their plants. They also dig underground tunnels that are visible on the ground’s surface.
Health HazardsMice are known carriers of different diseases, such as rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, hantavirus, and more.Like other rodents, voles are also carriers of parasites that cause serious diseases like Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and salmonellosis.


Voles are often mistaken for mice because of their similar appearance, but the most striking difference between the two rodents is the size of their tails. Mice have long tails that are almost as long as their bodies. Their tails are also scaly and almost hairless. On the other hand, voles have shorter tails with fur.

These pests also have almost the same fur color, so it’s better to differentiate them based on their build. Mice have slender bodies while voles have stocky bodies. Mice also have pointed noses and large ears whereas voles have blunt noses and small ears. A mouse has eyes that are much larger than a vole’s.


Mice are not picky eaters; these rodents consume anything from pet food, seeds, nuts, and grains. Some of them even eat smaller insects, like beetles and caterpillars, and deli meats, such as ham and bacon. Another notable thing about mouse diet is that they crave high calorie and fatty food when they move inside the house. They’re typically attracted by peanut butter, chocolate spread, and gumdrops.

On the other hand, voles are strict vegetarians that prefer seeds, leaves, crops, fruits, vegetables, and seedlings. Their diet makes them a huge nuisance for homeowners who are trying to maintain well-kept gardens with tall trees and shrubs.

Nesting Habit

House mice are usually found nesting in the dark corners of the house. Although they hide from humans, these pests prefer staying near man-made buildings. This makes it easy for them to enter the house when the temperature outside starts to drop. Mice might also live in the yard, but they usually burrow in weeds or under shrubs.

Voles rarely reproduce inside houses because they prefer living outside. These rodents are found in weed covers or grassy areas like the garden. They also inhabit abandoned mole tunnels. Some voles prefer digging the ground to create their own tunnels near plants.

Damages Caused

Mice are one of the most notorious pests to ever infest a home. These pesky rodents constantly chew through different materials to keep their teeth trimmed. This is a huge problem for many homeowners because mice usually target attic insulation, water pipes, and electrical wirings. Mice also tend to burrow near man-made structures, which weakens the building’s stability.

Since voles rarely enter houses, homeowners won’t need to worry about these rodents causing floods and house fires like mice do. However, voles are perfectly capable of ruining the different plants in the garden. These rodents chew fruits, vegetables, shrubs, and other vegetation when they get hungry. They also tend to build nests at the base of the plants.

Another notable damage caused by voles in the yard is the underground tunnels. While some of them only inhabit abandoned mole tunnels, other voles dig the ground to create more tunnels that are visible on the ground’s surface when the snow starts melting in the spring.

Potential Health Hazards

Both mice and voles are carriers of almost the same kinds of diseases. These rodents contaminate food, water, and other things when they leave droppings and urinate everywhere. Whether you’re getting rid of mice or voles on the property, it’s crucial to wear protective gear to prevent contracting serious diseases.

How to Eliminate Mice in the Property

Once it’s been confirmed that mice are infesting the property, here are some of the steps to eliminate them for good:

1. Keep the Place Clean

Nothing attracts mice more than a house full of cluttered materials and leftover food. The first step to keep the mice at bay is to maintain a clean home. All food in the kitchen must be stored in thick containers to prevent the rodents from chewing through them. Leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator and the sink must be free of dirty dishes.

When throwing away the garbage, make sure that the trash cans are secured with lids. It’s also important to ensure that the garbage is collected regularly. Check the storage rooms, garages, and basements for boxes of clutter and piles of unused paper that the rodents might use to build nests. Throw away anything that’s not important anymore.

2. Eliminate All Possible Entry Points

Mice enter holes or gaps on the walls that are at least as big as a dime. Inspect the house for possible entry points. Seal them with caulk and steel wool to prevent the rodent from chewing through the material.

These smart little creatures are resourceful enough to find other entry points aside from the holes and gaps on the walls. They enter through gutters, vents, crawl spaces, and chimneys, so make sure to install wire mesh in these areas to keep the rodents out.

3. Set Traps and Baits

Many mouse traps and bait stations available in the market are safe and easy to use. If mice are lurking inside the house, place mouse traps in different places where these rodents pass through. Some of the best places to place a mousetrap in are along walls, under the sink, under appliances, and behind trash cans.

Mousetraps are only as effective as the bait used. Peanut butter is a popular choice because it attracts mice within hours. The sticky texture of the spread also makes it difficult for the rodent to take the food without triggering the trap.

How to Get Rid of Voles in the Lawn

Vole hole in the ground

If there are voles nesting in the garden, here are a few ways to get rid of them:

1. Eliminate Anything that Attracts Them

Voles actively reproduce all-year-round. These rodents thrive in places that provide them with enough shelter and food supply. Eliminating everything that attracts these rodents to the property is an important step to take. This means you must clean up excess mulch and brush, wood stacks, tall grasses, and leaf piles.

2. Build Fences Around the Yard

Vole tunnels are hard to spot sometimes. If the healthy plants start dropping without any reason, then voles might be lurking in the yard. Mesh fences are one of the best defenses against voles. Protect the bulbs and roots of the plants by installing rolls of a quarter-inch mesh wire around the yard. Make sure that the fence is placed at least one foot under and above the ground.

3. Set up Live Traps

Although they’re a big nuisance in the backyard, some states prohibit killing voles. The best way to remove them from the property is to set live traps. Some homeowners also utilize bait traps with apple or peanut butter. These traps are placed at a 90-degree angle to the voles’ pathway.

Protect Your Home from Pests with PermaKill Exterminating

Here at PermaKill Exterminating, our highly trained technicians are experienced in handling different rodent extermination situations. Our treatment starts with a thorough assessment of the situation on the property. This allows us to create the best rodent control method to suit the client’s needs. Our pest treatment and control services also include preventative care to keep the rodents from returning to the property.

Call PermaKill Exterminating at (973) 584 – 6414 for smart and safe rodent extermination at your home.

Read more: When Should You Call an Exterminator for Mice


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