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Mice vs. Voles

Mice and voles are commonly lumped together, probably because the differences between them are so slight.  Both are small, furry rodents, but mice generally have large eyes, large ears and long tails (close to or greater than the length of their bodies).  Voles have smaller eyes, smaller ears (often concealed in their fur), and shorter tails.  Voles tend to be active day and night, whereas mice are mainly nocturnal. ( Meadow voles are commonly referred to as “field mice,” which tends to add to the confusion regarding these two groups of mammals!)  There are five species of mice in New England (white-footed, deer, house, meadow jumping and woodland jumping), and four species of voles (meadow, southern red-backed, rock and woodland).

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3 responses

  1. Susan Holland

    So, was Timmy Willy a meadow vole?

    November 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    • Not sure! Can’t remember what he looked like…long tail or short?

      November 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

  2. dellwvt

    Thanks for this – a perfect follow-up to my wondering yesterday about how you knew it was a vole’s tracks you were observing. I’d love more pointers, over the winter months, of how to differentiate between the makers of the many tiny footprints/trails I observe in the snow (if I don’t happen to observe the maker, which I never seem to do).

    November 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

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