Meadow Vole
Microtus pennsylvanicus
Family Cricetidae

* Body fat, with short legs and tail; voles look like fuzzy sausages.
* Fur long, soft, grayish brown to dark brown. Belly silvery to buff-colored to dark gray.
* Tail bicolored, 1 2/5-2 3/5".
* Head and body length: 3 1/2-5".

Natural History:
* Habitat: Moist meadows, grasslands, near streams, swamps, and lakes. Occasionally found in forests and orchards. Nests above or below ground, making extensive and intricate subterranean runways and above-ground pathways through grass. The pathways are often visible after the winter snow melts.
* Range: Most of Canada and the northern United States.
* Behavior: Active day and night throughout the year. Territorial. Feeds on grass, seeds, grains, bark, roots, and some insects.
* Lifespan: Less than a year in the wild.
* Native.

* Meadow voles are one of the most abundant species in New England. Unfortunately, we probably only see them when the cat drags them in, since they are so small and often remain in their burrows. Besides cats, bears, snakes, crows, and herons feed on voles.

* Although you usually don't see meadow voles going about their daily work, you can sometimes hear them squeaking as they encounter each other...try lying out in a field of tall grass and train your ears!

* Meadow voles are good swimmers and fighters, and certain individuals, by virtue of a recessive genetic trait, are also quite accomplished dancers. These creatures 'waltz' by rapidly spinning and jerking their heads.

Approved by NR


Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005