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What Do Voles Eat: 15+ Foods They Love

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Voles are usually smaller than mice but bigger than lemmings. On average, a vole, counting its tail, is about 4 to 8 inches long and weighs between 1/2 to 1 ounce. 

They’re well-suited for life in different habitats, from open fields to dense forests. 

Voles stay active throughout the year, but they’re most active during the spring and summer.

You can find voles in various places like forests, meadows, and fields. They’re active during both day and night. 

Voles mostly eat plants but can also snack on small invertebrates. They reproduce quickly and can have up to six sets of babies each year, with usually around four to five babies in each set.

One fascinating thing about voles is their eating habits. They’ve adapted to different environments, from rich meadows to harsh winters, and have special diets to survive. 

In this article, we’ll explore what voles eat, how their diet changes based on things like the time of year and species, and how they find their food.

What do Voles Eat in the Wild?

vole eating

In their natural homes, voles mostly eat plants. They enjoy a variety of foods like grass, roots, seeds, and sometimes berries. 

Voles are always looking for food, searching for grasses like fescue, ryegrass, timothy, and bluegrass

They also like to eat roots from plants like clover and dandelions, as well as seeds from grasses, weeds, and wildflowers

Sometimes, they even dig up bulbs from plants like tulips and daffodils. Voles also like to snack on leaves and stems from different kinds of plants such as shrubs, bushes, and young trees

Although they don’t usually eat fruits, they won’t turn down berries, apples, or cherries if they find them. 

They may also resort to snacking on small insects such as ants, beetles, and caterpillars, especially if plant food is scarce. It’s worth noting that voles can carry diseases like rabies and hantavirus.

However, sometimes they wander into fields where farmers grow crops like grains, vegetables, and root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, which can be a problem. 

These hungry voles have a big impact on their environment. 

They affect how plants grow and change the communities of plants in places like meadows, grasslands, marshes, woodlands, and prairies. 

Overall, their ability to eat different foods depending on the time of year and what’s available nearby has a big effect on how ecosystems work in the wild.

What do Voles Eat in the Winter?

Voles are incredibly resourceful animals, especially in the winter when food is scarce. They use smart strategies to keep themselves fed during this challenging time. 

Firstly, they rely on the food they’ve gathered and hidden away during the fall, like seeds, nuts, and other plant treats stored in their underground burrows. 

Even when the ground is frozen and covered in snow, they manage to find food by digging up roots, tubers, and bulbs. 

If there’s not much to eat above ground, they’ll resort to nibbling on tree bark and twigs.

While they mainly eat plants, voles won’t hesitate to snack on insects or scavenge dead animals if they find them. 

Their ability to adapt and find food helps them survive the winter until more options appear in the spring. 

Sometimes, they’ll raid stored food or venture into fields hoping to find leftover crops. 

Being able to make the most of what’s around is crucial for their survival until warmer weather brings more food.

What do Baby Voles Eat?

During their early days, baby voles depend entirely on their mothers for nourishment, gradually transitioning from milk to solid foods.

Initially, they rely solely on their mother’s milk for around the first 12 days, which provides essential nutrients crucial for their growth and development. 

Around the 9-day mark, they may start exploring solid foods while still nursing, occasionally receiving partially digested plant material from their mother to aid in the weaning process. 

By approximately 12-14 days old, baby voles are fully weaned and begin to consume a diet similar to their mother’s, including tender greens like soft leaves, clover, and dandelion greens, as well as occasional seeds and fruits if available. 

The mother vole plays a vital role in guiding her offspring toward safe foods and teaching them where to find them, ensuring their survival and successful integration into the vole community. 

It’s important to highlight that caring for orphaned baby voles is challenging, requiring specific milk substitutes and care routines, underscoring the importance of seeking guidance from a wildlife rehabilitation center in such cases.

What do Meadow Voles Eat?

Meadow voles, also called field voles, are commonly found in grassy habitats like meadows, fields, and marshes. 

They primarily feed on a variety of plant matter including grasses, seeds, forbs (broadleaf flowering plants), clover, dandelions, and fruits. 

During winter when food sources are scarce, they may resort to gnawing on bark and twigs for sustenance. 

Meadow voles are known for their active tunneling behavior in grassy areas, where they diligently search for grasses and other plants to eat and sustain themselves.

What do Prairie Voles Eat?

Prairie voles thrive in grasslands and prairies, favoring a diet centered on grasses and seeds. 

Like meadow voles, they consume a range of grass species and gather seeds from grasses, weeds, and wildflowers. 

Additionally, they may eat roots and tubers, fruits, and other seeds. 

During winter, when food becomes scarce, they depend more on stored reserves such as seeds and tubers. 

Through their foraging activities, prairie voles play a crucial role in shaping the dynamics of their ecosystem by impacting plant communities.

What do Bank Voles Eat?

Bank voles, commonly found in woodland habitats, enjoy a broader menu compared to meadow and prairie voles. 

Their diet includes a variety of plant-based foods such as seeds, nuts, fruits, and fungi, as well as rushes. 

Occasionally, they might supplement their diet with insects and worms. 

Bank voles are adaptable eaters, adjusting their food choices according to the season and the specific conditions of their habitat.

How do Voles Find Its Food?


Voles have clever ways of finding food in their habitats. One way is by using their sharp sense of smell to sniff out nearby plants. 

They follow scent trails to find patches of grasses, seeds, and other plants they like to eat.

They also rely on their excellent hearing to listen for sounds like rustling plants or other animals moving around, which can lead them to food. 

Using their sense of touch, they explore their surroundings, feeling for edible plants and seeds as they go. 

Voles are also known for making intricate tunnels underground, which helps them get food while staying safe from predators. 

They’re also good at remembering where they’ve found food before, so they can go back to those places and keep eating.

By combining their senses and smart behaviors, voles are skilled at finding the food they need to survive. 


To sum up, voles are fascinating animals with varied eating habits influenced by where they live and their role in the ecosystem. 

Whether they’re munching on rich grasslands or enduring tough winters with fewer food options, these tiny rodents have clever ways to get their meals. 

Learning about what voles eat and how they search for food gives us important clues about how they live and behave in their environment.


What will kill voles fast?

There are a few methods to kill voles quickly if they’re causing problems in your yard or garden. One common way is to use snap traps specifically designed for small rodents.
These traps are quick and humane, instantly killing the vole when triggered.
Additionally, some people use rodenticides, but these should be used with caution as they can harm other animals and pets if not used properly.

What animal kills voles?

Many predators hunt voles for food. Some of the animals that commonly prey on voles include owls, hawks, snakes, foxes, weasels, and domestic cats.
These predators help keep vole populations in check in their natural habitats.

Can voles eat meat?

Voles are primarily herbivores, meaning they mostly eat plants.
However, in rare cases, they may consume small insects or carrion (dead animals), but this is not a significant part of their diet.

Will garlic get rid of voles?

There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that garlic can effectively get rid of voles.
While some people believe that garlic might repel voles due to its strong smell, there’s little research to support this claim.
It’s always best to use proven methods like traps or natural predator control to manage vole populations.

Do voles eat grubs?

Voles primarily feed on plant material such as grasses, seeds, roots, and bulbs.
While they may occasionally come across grubs or other small insects in their tunnels or while foraging, these are not a staple part of their diet.
Voles are generally more interested in eating vegetation than insects.

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