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Meadow Vole Tunnels

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The melting snow has revealed a labyrinth of vole tunnels, which these little rodents excavate in the snow next to the ground in what is referred to as the subnivean layer.  The tunnels are advantageous in several ways – they provide protection from the wind and cold, and keep the voles hidden from predators.  Voles stay in these tunnels as long as the snow is deep enough, finding food in the form of seeds as they dig through the snow.  Every once in a while you’ll find a dining area (close-up photo) where seeds, in this case, white ash, have been eaten.  If you look closely enough you’ll also see some vole scat.

2 responses

  1. Melanie Hook


    What do these meadow voles look like? I have some little rodent here that appears to go under the snow. I have seen he/she twice and is black in color, a little larger than a field mouse and goes on top of the snow slower than a mouse would do.

    Ideas, suggestions?


    March 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    • My guess is that you’re seeing a meadow vole — they are quite dark, have a very short tail, and a blunt face (not pointed like a shrew’s). They do travel on top of the snow as well as tunnel in it — if you find tracks, you won’t see a tail mark, which you often do with a mouse, but not always.

      March 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm

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