There are many factors that make Oregon unique from its “Keep Portland Weird” culture to our spectacular natural areas that cover mountains, coast, and desert. However, there is a singularly unique item that many residents probably don’t know. While there are 23 species of Voles in the United States, just two states, Oregon and California, have their very own state-named species. Yes, there is an Oregon Vole although it’s more commonly known as the Creeping Vole, or scientifically as Microtus oregoni, and while it’s small, it can leave a large path of destruction.
What Is A Vole?
The Oregon vole has short gray to dark brown hair, small eyes, a short tail, and protruding ears. It’s smaller than other voles topping out at 6 inches where others can reach 8 inches. It’s found mostly from the coast to the Cascades. But rest assured, the Oregon vole is not the only type of vole in the state, and no matter what the species, the damage they can cause is the same.
Voles are like the Energizer Bunnies of the pest world. They are active day and night, year-round, and they are prolific breeders, birthing up to five litters a year. No hibernating or downtime, plus big families, means these rodents can cause a tremendous amount of damage as they build their tunnels and burrows and eat crops. In fact, if plants are being eaten you’ll know the problem is voles, not moles that choose to dine on insects. Voles prefer plants, finding the roots of perennial flowers, seeds, bulbs, and even grass, tasty delicacies. With snow and ice not a deterrent, and the ability to remain unseen by all but the most trained and patient eyes, the voles can seemingly take over.
But there are ways to keep them away. A well-manicured lawn and carefully tended garden are not ideal for voles that prefer tangles of weeds and ground cover that feed them and provide coverage. Regular mowing and spraying, tilling soil, and keeping mulch away from the base of trees are all actions that will send voles scurrying for more wild surroundings, which is where you want them to remain. Mesh wire cloth on the bottom of plant beds and surrounding young trees can also keep voles from eating anything freshly planted.
If the voles have chosen your landscape as their buffet, there are ways to remove them. The safest method is to use basic mouse traps. Flooding their underground homes can also work but the water needs to come by the bucketful as they can outrun the water from a hose. There are also dogs, rat terriers, for instance, that like nothing better than to spend days standing stock-still by moving ground, just waiting for the right moment to strike and kill a vole.
However, if controlling a vole population isn’t something you want to tackle, call NW Pest Control. We’re happy to get rid of the problem and return control of your yard back to you.