Short-tailed Vole - Microtus agrestis

Scientific Name: Microtus agrestis (Rodentia, Microtidae).

English Name: Short-tailed Vole, Field Vole (Rodent order, Vole family).

French Name: Le Campagnol agreste (='field vole').

5 Key Characters:
  • small (95 - 133 mm body + 27 - 47 mm tail, weighs 19 - 25 g).
  • greyish brown.
  • small, hairy, inconspicuous ears.
  • rather shaggy fur.
  • tail distinctly two coloured.
Lookalikes: Bank Vole Clethrionomys glareolus, which has chestnut fur on the back and larger more prominent ears. Common Vole Microtus arvalis, which is smoother and shorter haired, lighter coloured and smaller. Mice, all species of which have much pointier noses, much longer tails and much bigger, more prominent ears.

Habitat: Rough grassland and fallow land, especially if damp, willow (osier) beds, open woodland, field boundaries. They make well hidden runways through the grass and shallow burrows.

Active Period: All year, with population peaks in spring-early summer and again in late autumn. They are active both during the day and at night.

Status: Common, but declining due to habitat loss such as the modern practices of ploughing right to the edge of fields and tidying up roadside verges. They are also predated by domestic cats. The population follows a boom and bust cycle and they are a vital food source for Grey Herons, Kestrels, several species of Owls (particularly Barn Owl), Foxes, Stoats, Weasels and Badgers.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

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