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Meadow Vole Tracks & Tunnels

2-4-19 meadow vole_U1A2759Tracking animals can be an elusive endeavor because so many things can alter the condition of the tracks. Have recent flurries erased the details of an imprint? Has the sun melted and enlarged a track? Was every toe registering? Did wind-blown snow cause the tracks to vanish into thin air? Was the animal walking, loping or tunneling or a combination of all three?

The reason you use more than just one track to gather information, such as the stride of the animal and the width of its trail, is that sometimes the individual tracks defy the hard and fast rules of some tracking guides. A commonly accepted generality is that Deer and White-footed Mouse tails leave drag marks, and Meadow Voles’ shorter tails don’t. However, in the right conditions, even a vole’s one-inch tail can drag (see photo), though not creating as long a line as a mouse’s tail would. The Meadow Vole whose tracks are in this photograph was loping along when it suddenly decided to seek cover under the snow and began to (try to) tunnel. Perhaps a predator instigated this behavior.

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6 responses

  1. Allain

    We have moles! And they tunnel around disturbing roots of plants causing the plants to die. Any humane way of getting rid of them? City neighborhood so they may just return?

    February 13, 2019 at 9:19 am

    • If you google it, there are several products that say they repel moles…even a solar-powered one! Not sure how effective they are, however…

      February 13, 2019 at 12:19 pm

  2. Bill on the hill

    …Reading sign is so much fun Mary & your observation on this critter proves that!
    I have a red fox that travels a 1/2 mile section of my class 4 road, year in, year out. I was walking out to get the mail the other day & saw his tracks once again as I believe he has (2) dens that he travels between. Up on the snow embankment, approx. 8″ above the road, he left his urine mark so my best guess is, similar to a dog, he lifted his leg & left his mark exactly where he wanted it, telling interlopers, keep away or possibly attempting to attract a mate?
    Great post here Mary as spring is in the air?
    Bill… :~)

    February 13, 2019 at 10:01 am

  3. Amanda Barrow

    Hi Mary!

    I have a question about foxes for you. What email address do I use for you? thanks,

    amanda barrow

    On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 8:25 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “Tracking animals can be an elusive endeavor because > so many things can alter the condition of the tracks. Have recent flurries > erased the details of an imprint? Has the sun melted and enlarged a track? > Was every toe registering? Did wind-blown snow caus” >

    February 13, 2019 at 11:50 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    I believe it was a mole, yesterday, after the snow began, on the patio….took a photo….must have been after bird seed, peanuts.

    February 13, 2019 at 3:09 pm

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