Voles vs Moles: What’s The Difference?

Do you have a mole problem or a vole problem?

You have holes in your yard and your plants and flowers are dying. You’ve got no clue what you’re dealing with here because these pesky moles and voles look identical – or do they!

We have to admit that voles and moles are not the most exciting creatures, they’re just there – making your yard a living nightmare.

I’m going to tell you about all the differences between voles and moles and how to tell them apart.

After you correctly identify the problem, then you can effectively get rid of the mole or vole.

Quickly Identify Voles vs Moles

A vole is a type of rodent that looks like a mouse and has dark fur. A mole is a larger animal about twice as big as a mouse with hair on the top of its head. Moles are usually seen by the mounds of dirt that it digs for their underground tunnels.

What are voles?

Backyard Vole
Backyard Vole

Voles are small, mouse-like rodents that are found across the US and Canada. They are often mistaken for mice, but there are a few key differences. Voles have smaller ears, a shorter tail, and they weigh about 1 ounce. They also measure around 3-5 inches long.

Voles are herbivores and their diet consists of mostly roots, grass, bulbs, tubers, and other plant material. They do not need tunnels to move around as moles do; voles can also jump great distances when needed!

To the homeowner, voles are small rodents that are known for their damage to plants and gardens. Additionally, one of the most important things to know about voles is that they can cause damage to your property. Their tunnels can actually undermine structures or disrupt irrigation systems.

Voles are also known to carry diseases, which is why they are often considered pests.

What are moles?

Backyard Mole
Backyard Mole

Moles are small rodents that like to live in the ground. They have a round, smooth nose resembling that of a mouse and their fur can be black, cream, brown, or gray.

Moles typically weigh between 4 and 6 ounces, and they range from six to eight inches in length. Moles are insectivores who feed on earthworms and beetles/insect larvae/spiders/fish. The star-nosed mole is an exception to the rule – it feeds on fish as well as aquatic invertebrates like snails and worms.

What are the differences between voles and moles?

There are several differences between voles and moles. The section below will detail those differences to help you identify your problem and find the right solution to get rid of it.

1. Voles vs Moles: Size

One of the main differences between moles and voles is size. Voles are significantly smaller than moles.

The average size of a vole is between 2 and 5 inches. The average size of a mole is between 7 to 10 inches.

Additionally, moles have shorter tails than voles. A vole’s tail can be up to 1.5 inches long and a mole’s tail can be up to 3 inches long.

Voles typically weigh between 2 and 4 ounces, while moles typically weigh between 3 and 6 ounces.

In general, moles are usually about twice as big as a vole and a vole is similar in size to a small mouse.

2. Voles vs Moles: Appearance

Beyond the difference in size, moles and voles actually have different appearances.

Moles have stocky bodies, short legs, and large heads. Their fur is generally black or brown, although some have a silver sheen. Moles’ eyes are small and their ears are hidden in their fur.

Voles have slender bodies, long legs, and small heads. Their fur is generally light brown or gray, but they can be darker or lighter depending on the subspecies. Voles’ eyes are large and their ears are visible above their fur.

3. Voles vs Moles: Eating

Voles and moles have very different eating habits. This is critical to understand when you are baiting or trapping the animals for removal.

Voles are herbivores that eat plant material such as roots, stems, and leaves. You will ofter find damage to plants in your yard where voles have been feeding. They also eat nuts and seeds, especially during the winter months when other food is not available.

Moles are insectivores, which means they primarily eat bugs, worms, and various insects. Moles find food by digging tunnels under the ground. They push the soil to the surface and eat what they find there.

4. Voles vs Moles: Reproduction

Voles and moles have very different reproduction cycles. Voles reproduce during the summer and fall, while moles reproduce in the spring.

Voles can have up to three litters per year. They produce two to eight young in each litter and the gestation period is about 21 days.

Moles, on the other hand, only have one litter annually and typically produce four to six young. The gestation period for moles is longer than the voles at 42 days.

Newborn voles are hairless and their eyes are closed when born. Moles are born with fur, open eyes, and the ability to move around independently.

As you can see, a vole problem can get worse quickly!

5. Voles vs Moles: Yard Damage

Voles and moles both live underground, but they dig different types of tunnels for different reasons. Regardless, the tunnels that voles and moles create can damage your lawn, garden, and landscaping.

Voles dig shallow, U-shaped tunnels in the soil that are easy to spot. Voles dig tunnels to find food, raise their young, and escape predators. You will often find vole tunnels in the mulch of your landscaping.

Voles eat the roots of the plants when they dig, which can cause a lot of damage to your garden and landscaping.

Moles dig deep vertical tunnels with one entrance/exit. Moles dig tunnels to find food and raise their young. The deep vertical tunnels are safer than shallow U-shaped ones, so predators can’t find them as easily.

Moles are not interested in eating the plants, but their tunnels can damage roots and stems as they move through the soil.

How to Identify a Vole or a Mole

Moles and voles are only two of the many animals that you will find in your yard. Here is a quick summary to help you quickly identify moles vs voles.

Moles are small rodents that have a long, soft tail, short legs, and large front paws. They live underground in tunnels they create with their front claws. If you see holes but never an animal, then it is likely a mole.

Voles are also small rodents, but they have short tails and longer legs. They live above ground in shallow tunnels made for chewing on plants. If it looks like a small mouse then it is likely a vole.

FAQ About Moles and Voles

What do vole holes look like?

Voles leave small, round holes in your lawn. They are often found around plants that they like to eat or near buildings where they seek shelter from predators.

Do voles tunnel under houses?

Voles will tunnel under buildings or decks to reach their food supply, which can cause damage to your foundation.

Do voles reuse tunnels?

Voles can reuse tunnels, which is why it’s important to plug or repair any damage caused by voles as soon as possible.

What is the best way to get rid of voles in your yard?

The best way to get rid of voles is to kill them with traps. This is a more humane and safer way to get rid of voles versus using poison.

What do mole holes look like?

Mole holes are usually round and about an inch across. The tunnels will be deeper than a vole burrow, often two feet or more.

Are voles dangerous?

Voles are not considered dangerous, but they can be destructive to gardens and crops. They cause damage by eating plant roots or bulbs.


There are several key differences between voles and moles, including their size, diet, and the damage they can cause to your yard.

If you’re dealing with burrowing rodents in your yard, it’s important to identify the problem so you can find the right solution.

In many cases, you can effectively get rid of voles or moles on your own. However, the easiest way to get rid of voles or moles is to hire a professional pest control company.

Chipmunks make holes too! Find out how to get rid of chipmunks in your yard.

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