How to Get Rid of Voles
Voles are a common problem – more common than you may think. They are small creatures that can cause a big nuisance and should be dealt with when you realize there’s an issue. Here’s what you need to know.
What are Voles?
Voles are small rodents. They’re active both underground and above, so if you see one in your home, you can bet there are more in places where you can’t see them. They’re small, five to seven inches in length, but their habits can cause a lot of nuisance in your yard.
Voles are stockier than mice with shorter tails and thin faces. They have small teeth for chewing vegetation and brown fur with dark bellies. Their habits can be similar to mice, and they’re often mistaken for simple field mice.
Mice, on the other hand, have larger ears and longer tails. They have more pointed snouts than voles, but they can still behave very similar to many different types of small rodents. Identification is the first part of figuring out how to get rid of them.
What is the Vole Life Cycle?
Voles only live for about a year, and they can become mature in just about 13 days. Mating season lasts most of the year, with voles having several pups per litter. They can spread quickly as a population if left to their own devices. Vole control depends on knowing their habits.
Gestation is between 16 and 24 days, and voles don’t stay with their parents for a very long time. The life cycle is short, but they are quick to procreate, causing some issues with large populations. You should move quickly once you find out that you have a vole infestation.
Are Voles Dangerous to People?
Voles aren’t a danger to people on their own, but they can transmit diseases and cause damage to property. They can carry a variety of diseases, including rabies and hantavirus, so a bite should always be checked out quickly by a medical professional.
The other potential situation is that their feces and urine also transmit some nasty viruses to human populations. If you know that’s what you’re getting into, you should wear closed-toed shoes and gloves to minimize any contact you may have with either the voles themselves or their excrement.
Signs of Vole Damage
Voles are similar to other animals, so it can be tough to identify their presence. Small tunnel entrances are the first clue with one to two inches in diameter. They appear in your yard, along with little runways.
Other signs that vole burrows are still active would be vegetation and droppings around the entrances. That tells you the burrow is still a source of protection for the voles and can be the first defense in making sure your home and land are protected.
In your landscaping, you may notice signs of voles in gnaw marks and bits around vegetation. They’re omnivores and will often eat landscaping plants to sustain themselves. If you’re paying attention, you can notice their signs there as well.
How to Get Rid of Voles
There are a few steps to beginning the process of getting rid of the voles on your property. Here’s how you can begin to get rid of voles.
- Take a closer look – when you walk around your property and look carefully, do you see the signs that voles leave behind? These include all the signs above. Take a close look to make sure you figure out where they’re hiding and that you can concentrate your efforts around these areas. If you don’t know all their hiding spots, you may end up leaving populations to replenish and repeat the problem again.
- Check your landscaping – damage to your shrubs and trees can give away the signs of voles if you can’t find where they’re living right away. The signs of chewing and sickly trees can give away the location of where the voles are spending their time. Voles gnaw at random angles and are smaller than other types of animals.
- Make a plan – Dealing with your vole problem requires a plan. You’ll want to decide if you need to call a professional or if you’re going to handle the problem on your own. You’ll need poisons or traps suitable for voles and build barriers to common hiding places to help prevent other infestations.
Once you’ve made a plan, you have to follow through. Here are a few ways you can handle the problem and get rid of voles for good.
Prevention starts when you suspect that voles have taken over. The primary methods are keeping them out of your yard in the first place. Fencing is a great way to handle them. A vole-proof fence helps prevent them from digging around in your yard and causing trouble. They’ll need to be a foot deep and made of a small mesh that they can’t get through.
Fences can also keep out other pests that climb or cause damage to properties. Put fencing around whatever you need to protect and ensure that it’s deep enough to prevent digging and tall enough to prevent climbing.
Gravel is another simple solution. Voles only want things that are simple to dig through, and gravel can cause a lot of issues with them digging. They’re more likely to head back around to find more comfortable ground to dig into.
You can also get rid of all the ways they’re getting into your property. Get rid of any food left out and ensure that there are no holes or ways they can enter the house or garage itself. It’s a hazard to have them in the house because it’s highly unsanitary for them to be around. They can cause health issues with excrement and dander.
The chimney or vents are also common areas for voles to enter. Coverings can prevent not just voles but other types of animals from entering your home. Ensure that all vents and exit vents are covered as well as chimneys or any other possible openings.
Ultrasonic devices and things like water can help deter as well, but they aren’t proven to work. Ultrasonic devices emit a sound that helps prevent small rodents, and water may make it more difficult for them to get settled and comfortable. It’s worth a shot if you can’t make other things work.
Treat the Problem
Once you notice them around, it’s a good idea to combine prevention methods with treatments. Here are a few ways to treat and how to kill voles.
You should keep your yard and landscaping maintained to get rid of their hiding places. Clear away any debris or wood piles that can attract them and make sure your landscaping is clean and trimmed back. Keep mulch brushed back from your trees and shrubs.
Trimming back your landscaping can also prevent your yard from staying too moist and soft. The sun drying out your yard and providing a less cool and hospitable place helps ensure that voles don’t settle in too quickly.
Traps can handle small populations. There are several ways to handle it. Spring traps or glue traps eventually kill the voles if they aren’t treated right away. Live traps are a more humane method and allow you to relocate the vole or voles to an ideal spot away from your property.
Poison is also a potential treatment, but you’ll need a poison that is explicitly designed for voles. It’s best to consult a professional if you decide to go the poison route. It can be dangerous to administer poison, so be sure you take precautions or simply call someone with experience.
If you do try poison, be sure you understand the long term consequences of your actions. The poison can take a while to act, but you should also ensure that no vole carcasses are left on your property to attract other scavengers. That can have a devastating effect on the wildlife, especially if there are other protected species around.
Repellents vary in effectiveness, but they are worth consideration. Repellents rely on substances that are gross for voles to smell or taste, and may require lots of applications to remain effective.
Options include garlic, castor oil, spices, or other options. Exploring these may take some experimentation to get just right. They may be best used for small populations and in small areas where you can decide if they’re genuinely effective instead of as a large scale solution. Combine them with things like preventative measures and live traps, and you could have a good, humane solution to your vole problem.
Dealing with Voles for Good
If you need to call in professional help, that might be the best solution. They’re familiar with vole habits and can help you build an effective plan to deal with them for good. Help ensure that your vole problem is handled the right way with a professional to prevent damage to your house and yard.
Voles don’t pose serious threats to humans, but the potential for disease is high. It’s best to tackle them right away before that threat escalates. Take this advice into consideration for how to get rid of voles in yard, and you’ll be good to go.
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