Vole Vs. Mole: 7 Surprising Differences You May Never Know

People always mistake voles for moles

Do you have trouble with pests in your garden? Do you think it is a mole inducing a problem in your landscape? Are you going to take some strict measures to stop moles from bothering you? Then notice properly about what actual savage is making your garden look miserable. You might think it is a mole but in reality, it can not only be a mole. It can be a vole, mole or it is also possible that together they are partying in your garden.

Like you, many people usually mistake voles for mole. There are many reasons behind it; the most important of them is the identical-sounding names. Other reasons include the habit of creating evils in gardens; both dig holes in the ground to store the food for winter season and shelter from predators’ attacks. Moles are more common than voles and almost many garden owners once in a while mistake voles for moles. Being a consumer of same types of food, moles usually don’t find it difficult to share their space with voles. Both these pests are mammals and if moles appear like a mouse then so are voles.

It is very important to understand the difference between the two especially for the people having gardens or those who are an encounter with them on a daily basis. Without identifying them, it is almost impossible to track or stop them from damaging your garden. Therefore, we will discuss seven surprising differences between the same appearing pests to assist you in differentiating them out.

Seven differences between voles and moles

Vole on the ground.
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Though they may appear same and trouble you in almost same manner. However, few fundamental differences between them can help you to identify them.

1. Appearances

First, we will discuss the appearance of moles. They have thick grayish fur along with large pointed snout. The eyes and ears are too tiny, and both remain covered behind their body fur. Having covered eyes and ears make them feel like they do not have any eyes or ears. The most prominent and distinguishable feature of moles is their facade feet that look almost like paddles. The claws on their front feet are large and help them in digging, while the claws on the rear feet are small still sharp enough to dig. The bodies are usually four to nine inches long.

Voles, on the other hand, have browned color fur and short tails. Their body fur is thicker as compared to moles. Voles, unlike moles, contain small ears, black eyes, and prominent front teeth that are helpful in chewing much harder stuff. Voles are also named as meadow mouse, their body length is almost same as moles, but their most prominent and distinguishing features are their front teeth, smaller tail, and shining black eyes.

2. Habitats

Mole on the white.
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The habitat of both creatures is also different. Seven different species of moles can be seen all the way through North America, but majorly it can be seen in northwestern and eastern regions of United States. Among all seven species of moles, the most prominent are Star Nosed and the Eastern ones. Usually, moles stay alive beneath the ground and hardly can be seen as they do not come to a surface. They have a preference for moist and marshy sand to live.

There are many diverse species of voles which are easily found throughout North America. The difference between their habitations lies in the choice of living places. Voles can survive contentedly in a large variety of habitats.

3. Food preferences

Moles prefer to eat food types consumed by carnivorous creatures. They are not rodents and belong to the order Insectivora. That is why they can eat grubs, worms, and other types of insects as well. Among all species of moles, there are only one species that chucks plants. Otherwise, all other species eats insects and invertebrates. That one species can be seen in remote northwestern United States area.

Voles, on the other hand, are herbivores and they live basically by eating different plants parts like fruits, flowers, roots, grasses and other. Being a rodent, they can even find their food from tree bark during extreme weathers. However, it only happens in winters when they are not able to come out on a surface. They especially feed on trees during a winter season. They can even eat potatoes and flower bulbs present in the garden causing severe damage to the place.

4. Managements

Moles do not create any health-threatening problem to humans because of their nature of being carnivores. However, they can enter in your area through different ways. As only one mole stays at one place, it is quite easy to manage them from entering your locality through setting up traps.

Voles, on the other hand, lives in groups and more than one voles can be seen damaging your area. They also create serious trouble to your plants. The best way to manage them from harming your plant is to create a barrier between voles and plants.

5. Dirt heaps and tunnels

A mole is digging on green background.
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As digging asks for extremely hard work, therefore, moles require a lot of protein diet which comes from eating insects. According to an estimate, moles almost eat as much as their body weight. In search of the meals, they create tunnels continuously that sometimes become much larger that look like a little mountain or a dirt heaps. The more energetic or we can say a hungry mole can dig a tunnel to 100ft depth.  Because they live in tunnels, so they remain hidden from a garden owner.

Voles, on the other hand, create problems mostly above the ground. They feed on leaves, flowers and other things located on the surface. However, they also burrow and make runways that appear like a full trail system. These species make runways in search of food. They keep munching food that comes in the path of runways. Sometimes, they also feed on roots and tree barks located quite underneath the ground. However, unlike moles, they do not create dirt heaps on the grounds.

6. Destruction

As moles belong to order Insectivora, they do not create much trouble for the plants. They consume worms and other insects reducing the number of bugs from your garden. Though they do not feed on plants but somehow cause destruction. You will find many burrows in the garden because of their habit of extensive digging in search of food. They also create soil heaps on your ground and sometimes pull up roots of your plants.

The destruction caused by voles can be debated with their two different type’s pine voles and meadow voles. Pine voles prefer to live in underground tunnels or underground paths. Whereas, meadow voles prefer to stay on the surface runways or they make tunnels that are just located under the snow above the ground. Voles not only damage the garden surface but rather they also damage whole root system, plants or even ornamental plants. During winter, they also sometimes eat tree barks that are readily available on their runways.

7. Behavior

In term of behavior, moles and voles can be discussed in various ways. Breeding of moles occurs in late winters or early spring. As a result of breeding, usually, 4 to 7 baby moles are born. Moles do not prefer to stay longer in any particular area. They usually stay for few weeks and then leave the place and dig their tunnel at some other area. The missing tunnel will then engaged by another mole. Being a highly defensive and anti-social creature, they do not allow any other adult to come in their place except for a mating purpose. Typically one mole is located at one location, and it is enough to destroy that place through digging.

Voles can stay active throughout the year and can breed at any time of the year. Some of the species can breed even four to five times a year. They mainly create problems during a winter season because they do not like a hot surface during summers. Unlike moles, voles prefer to share their burrow or runway with several other adult and baby voles as well.

Different ways of controlling voles and moles

Two rollers on the lawn.
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Moles and voles can be controlled in a variety of ways. First, we will discuss the ways to control moles:

  • The most effective and common method is to set up traps in moles tunnels. Once moles get stuck in it, you will easily remove them.
  • Another trick is to use lawn roller regularly on your garden as a routine. As lawn rollers contain steel wheels having water filled inside, it will crush all tunnels and mounds created by moles. Moles will find no other way than leaving your lawn.
  • Moles can also be eliminated through using different chemicals. However, these chemicals will not only remove moles, but they will also cause health issues to other living beings as well.

Voles can be controlled through these ways:

  • The steps to prevent voles is to litter around lawns, eliminate ground covers and removal of weeds. This will snatch shelter from voles, and they will find no place to hide.
  • Create a barrier between a gardens flowerbeds and voles.
  • Create a channel dig erected below ground at a depth of at least eighteen inches. It will prevent voles from attacking your plants. This trick will also work for other mammals too.


The points mentioned above should be kept in mind while preventing pests from your garden. As both moles and voles depict different behavior and eating habits, knowing the differences will help your adequately to take appropriate precautionary measures.

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