Vole vs Mole: The 7 Key Differences

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: July 13, 2021

The names rhyme and their similar behavior can lead to serious property damage. But, end of the day, voles and moles are quite different creatures.

Both are small animals and, if left unattended, will destroy garden plants and lawns. And they’ll do so almost invisibly with uninformed property owners not discovering the attacks until it’s too late! It’s a good idea to have an understanding of these two animals and their behavior to detect their presence.

Why Voles and Moles Are Harmful?

Voles prefer to chomp on plants and tree bark. Moles nibble on insects and anything else that moves. It’s their digging that destroys the surfaces of your turf, leaving behind unseemly holes and mounds. Moles leave damage to grass and garden plants. There’s also the risk of gaping holes that humans can step into.

Voles eat your vegetation, damage the root systems of plants. Moles burrow into the soil all year-round, looking for earthworms and other life to feed on. Voles look for snowpacks during the winter for safety in the cold. After the snow melts, the critters leave worn, obvious tracks in lawns that may be irreversible.

Comparing Vole vs Mole

Let’s take a look at some of the differences between these animals in terms of appearance, behavior, and other factors.

Moles are not rodents. They’re insectivores and spend their entire lives underground. In their search for food, they shred suburban gardens and lawns.Voles are small rodents. You can find voles above ground but they’ll dig several burrows for protection and shelter. They populate quickly with a density capacity of 2,000 voles per acre.
AppearanceMoles are small and live a subterranean lifestyle. Their bodies are cylindrical with velvety fur. They have short, powerful forelimbs, large paws, reduced hindlimbs, and tiny, inconspicuous eyes and ears.A member of the hamster and lemmings family, voles are small rodents with stout bodies, hairy, short tails, smaller ears and eyes, and a slightly round head.
Size & WeightA mole can grow to 4.5 inches and weigh about 1.7 ounces.A vole can grow to 4.5 inches and weigh around 0.95 ounces.
BehaviorMoles only come out when they find food, poking out long enough to attack grass, plants, flowers, etc.Voles are year-round, day and night, creatures. They feed on grass, bulbs, herbaceous plants, tubers, bark, and tree roots. They store plant matter underground.
EnvironmentLiving underground, the mole looks for grasslands, meadows, wetlands, and riparian habitats.Voles love grassy and weedy areas with heavy ground cover. They also take refuge in pond and stream banks, orchards, hayfields, and pastures.

The 7 Key Differences Between Moles and Voles

Here are significant traits about the mole and the vole that distinguishes the two creatures.

1. Vole vs Mole: They Are Not of the Same Species

Voles are rodents and moles are not. Voles are members of the Mammalia class, the Rodentia order, and the Cricetidae family. They are relatives of lemmings and hamsters. Moles are mammals in the Talpidae family, classified as Mammalia of the Eulipotyphia order.

2. Vole vs Mole: Eating

Voles stick to plant life, while the predatory moles are in the market for grubs, insects, and worms.

3. Vole vs Mole: Unique Signs of Their Work

Moles are probably in the vicinity if there are furrows of soil on your property. Voles eat plants but do not burrow like the underground mole. Voles eat grass, flower roots, bulbs, and seeds. If food is scarce, they’ll chow on tree bark and shrubs. If you have raised tunnels in your yard, it’s most likely moles. If you have entry holes that lead to underground tunnels, voles may be the culprits.

4. Vole vs Mole: Distinct Appearances

Voles are often mistaken for house mice. But the vole has a shorter tail. Moles have tails as long as their bodies.

5. Vole vs Mole: Reproduction

Like mice, voles quickly reproduce. Inside of weeks, a vole family can triple in size. They produce litters anywhere between five and 10 times during the year. Moles breed only once a year and their litter is usually two to six pups (as they’re called).

6. Vole vs Mole: Lifestyles

Moles are predatory and do their dirty work below ground surfaces. Once they find sufficient feed, they stick around. Voles live in creeping or low-lying vegetation. They leave trails through grass and snow. Voles are herbivores and go after your seeds, bulbs, and roots.

7. Vole vs Mole: Survival Mode

The mole’s eyes are so small you can’t see them. They’re colorblind and can only detect movement and light. They keep still and use sensors at the tip of their noses to locate scents of prey and other moles. Voles have poor vision too and use their body shape and claws for navigation.

Next Up: Slug vs Snail: The 3 Key Differences Explained

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you tell if you have moles or voles?

Moles are carnivores but in their constant search for food, they leave a lot of damage in their wake. It’s the constant burrowing that reveals the creature’s presence. Voles dig as well but you’ll see their work in the destruction of your garden and lawns.

What attracts voles to your yard?

Voles love ample vegetation, tall grass, and weeds. These elements make excellent cover and food.

What attracts moles?

Moles are constantly looking for food. If they find some, they’ll stick around, leaving mounds, tunnels, and holes everywhere. In their fervor, they detach plant roots, kill plants, trees, and lawns, and promote the growth of weeds.

How do I get rid of voles in my yard?

You can take natural steps such as eliminating what attracts them in the first place. Mow lawns regularly. Remove brush, shrubs, and low-lying bushes. If they are already ingrained in your ecosystems, you may need to hire a professional exterminator.

How do I get rid of moles on my property?

Eliminate food sources such as lawn insects, grubs, ants, mole crickets. As moles like damp soil, avoid overwatering your property. They only need one inch of water to make themselves at home. There are also repellants, baits, and traps you can deploy. If their presence cannot be controlled, call a professional.

Are voles and moles bad?

They are significant threats, wreaking continuous havoc on your ecosystem.