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Controlling Voles

Many property owners have a hard time telling the difference between moles and voles since both live underground where they construct networks of tunnels. However, these two commonly found critters are actually quite different from one another. Voles are rodents that are about 4 to 6 inches long and have short tails. Since they have a high birth rate, hundreds of them can populate a fairly small area. They are vegetarians that eat your plants. Moles, on the other hand, are 6 to 8 inches long. They have large front paws with sharp claws and tiny eyes and ears. Only a few of them will be found in a large area, but they will create deep tunnels for getting around and for shelter. They eat the insects in the soil, not the plants.

If you would like to control voles, consider the following:

  • Trapping voles is the most effective way of getting rid of them. The traps must be placed in actively used tunnels. Some traps will kill these animals, but you can also use non-lethal pit traps that are placed level with the bottom of the tunnel. The animal will fall into the trap and cannot get out.
  • Small garden areas can be protected with physical barriers made from hard wear cloth or sheet metal. These barriers must be placed in a trench, which completely surrounds the area you wish to protect, at a depth of about 8 inches. The barrier needs to extend about 5 inches above the ground to keep the critters from climbing over it.
  • Natural predators such as snakes, weasels, foxes and birds are effective in eliminating voles in less urban areas. House cats can hunt down a few of these pests, but they cannot control large populations.

Old wives tales remedies such as installing vibrators, planting castor beans, or making homemade brews are rarely effective means of controlling voles. Also, be aware that in many communities it is illegal to poison an animal or shoot them with any kind of firearm.

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