Meadow Vole in Sutton Massachusetts
The meadow vole is amazingly cute! It looks like a grey and light brown stretched out mouse. It has a short tail and its hands and feet are all small, moused sized ones. It has a short mouse nose instead of a long mole nose. Also, mole front feet are very large and curled. Vole front feet are small.
People sometimes confuse the meadow vole with a mole because it runs along the surface of the grass in tunnels. In fact if you put your foot in front of a meadow vole it'll turn right around and head back into its tunnel network. It doesn't like to leave its tunnels. But with a mole you'd only see the tunnel entrances - there'd be mounds occasionally in your yard. With the meadow vole you actually see the raised tunnel pathways.
The meadow vole - Microtus pennsylvanicus - is the only type of vole we have in Massachusetts. They're around 6-8" long. They have curved ears which they press flat against their body in order to burrow nicely through their grassy tunnels. Baby voles are able to have kids of their own in as little as a month - and they're pregnant for a month. Then they get pregnant again and have more. They keep doing this for the 2 years of their life. Meadow voles and voles in general are thought to be the most quickly reproducing mammal on earth! They eat grass and mushrooms.
These photos were all taken on October 9, 2011. We had laid a tarp out on the grass to let it dry. When we removed the tarp a week or two later, a vole had set up a maze of tunnels beneath it, and was there roaming around. We were able to gently direct and redirect its movements by putting our feet in front of it. It would simply turn around in the tunnel it was in and head the other way.
This is a photo of the tunnel network. I realize it's a bit hard to see - they create twisty tunnels along the top edge of the dirt.
Mammals in Sutton Massachusetts
Animals and Birds in Sutton Massachusetts
Sutton Massachusetts Photo Collection