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Voles vs moles: What are the differences?

Voles and moles - the two names sound so alike that you may have thought they were the same exact animal. The truth is, the two pests could not be more different. Although both are able to cause similar damage to your home or business’s outdoor garden, they differ in animal classification order, appearance, diet, and even habitat. 

When spotted, voles rarely get confused for moles, but they do commonly get mistaken for mice. In fact, they sometimes earn the name “field mice” due to them being found in abundance near large, open grassy areas. When it comes to addressing an infestation of either pest, identification is key. Knowing what pest you are dealing with will determine the kind of treatment that will be used to eliminate the problem.

If you suspect you may have an issue with moles or voles contact your local Western Exterminator office immediately. Our specialists will help identify the pest, determine the magnitude of the problem, and then work with you to find a solution that will work best for you and your property. They will also help find ways to prevent the pests from entering your property again.

vole coming out of the ground

What is a vole?

Voles surprisingly do not belong to the same classification order as moles. They belong to the Rodentia or Rodent order along with mice, rats, gophers, and squirrels, whereas moles belong to the Eulipotyphla order. The good news is, voles rarely invade homes. Voles are small mouse-looking creatures that can be found outside in backyards near properties. They can become destructive to property due to their plant-based diet which consists of grass, roots, garden crops and bulbs of flowers. In the winter they will even chew on tree bark when other food sources are scarce.

What is a mole?

While voles look similar to regular looking mice and other small rodents, moles are very interesting looking and don't look like voles at all. They have pointed snouts and large clawed feet and generally have a clumsy look to them. Moles are wildlife that are typically found because of the big mounds and tunnels they create. They will build tunnels either near the surface of the soil, or several inches below the ground, wreaking havoc on your lawn and landscaping efforts.

What is the difference between a mole and a vole?


As mentioned earlier, the mole and vole are two very different animals. One of the biggest ways they differ is in their appearance. Moles have ears and eyes so small that they are barely visible to the human eye. Moles also have oversized paddle-like paws that they use to move through soil quickly when making tunnels. They range in color from black all the way to orange. The vole, on the other hand, is usually a reddish brown-black color with a gray stomach. The only way they are similar in this area is in size. The two pests are usually quite small - only around 4-8 inches in length. 


Like moles, voles create holes in the ground the size of a golf ball inside. They often tunnel through mulch beds under the ground on their search for food. However, unlike moles, they do not create raised mounds of dirt in the process. So if you do see the little ridges of dirt above ground, you are more than likely dealing with a mole. However, they also both create runways above ground connecting to clustered burrow openings.

What do moles and voles eat?

Moles are predatory creatures by nature and love to eat beetles, earthworms, grubs and any other arthropods they can scrounge up in the soil. Voles are mainly herbivores, feeding on grass, plants, roots and tree bark. Both can cause damage to your garden in their destructive quests for a meal.

ground vole in sand

How to get rid of voles

The best way to prevent these rambunctious scavengers from doing damage is by dissuading them from getting into your yard in the first place. One way to do so is by modifying their environment so that is it less desirable for these pests. Voles do not like feeding in open areas, so removing heavy mulch, weeds, or thick vegetation will help take away their food source as well as their protection from predators. It is also helpful to mow the lawn regularly and to keep mulch away from the base of any trees. Another way to destroy the vole’s burrows and runways is to cultivate the soil around your garden. 

Voles are not good climbers, so you may even want to consider putting up a wire fence with mesh around any trees your garden area. Make sure the fence is at least 12 inches high and 6-10 below the ground to prevent them from burrowing underneath it.

Western vole removal services

Our specialists are trained to detect the damage voles have caused and locate their hiding spots. We will then get rid of the burrows and find the voles that have settled in your garden. We will remove them and then work with you to talk about ways of preventing them from returning. Western Exterminator is your local expert in wildlife management solutions. 

If you think you have a vole infestation, the first step is to call Western at 888-444-6138 and set up an appointment.

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