An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Meadow Vole Trail

Thanks to a dusting of snow we are suddenly privy to the comings and goings of the creatures we live amongst. Some animals are small enough to remain hidden once winter snows arrive, because they live in the subnivean layer between the surface of the ground and the snow.  But when the snow is too shallow for them to create this network of tunnels, their movements are easily discernible.  The pictured meadow vole trail shows where the vole initially tried (unsuccessfully) to tunnel under the snow (it wasn’t deep enough), at the bottom of the photograph.  It then scampered over the grass until it stopped to rest for a moment, leaving a whole body imprint, including its short tail. It’s fairly unusual to see the entire body print of small rodents such as voles and mice, for they are so vulnerable out in the open that they rarely stop long enough to leave one.

5 responses

  1. Susan in NH

    It’s kind of like a vole’s version of a “snow angel”!

    November 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm

  2. dellwvt

    I appreciate your explanation of these clues in the snow!
    I’m curious about what it is that lets you know it is a meadow vole, and not some other small rodent?

    November 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    • Well, for one, I actually saw the vole! But the short tail and the arrangement of the individual tracks, plus the tunneling effort all add up to vole. I could not tell which species of vole just from the tracks, however.

      November 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

  3. Beth Fox

    Great photo and comments:)

    November 27, 2012 at 12:32 am

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