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Video:How to Get Rid of Voles

with John Vogt

Voles can really mess up your garden if allowed to roam freely, so it's important to try to keep them out. This video from About.com will show you some ways of getting rid of voles.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Get Rid of Voles

Hello, this is John Vogt with About.com, here at Storybrook Farms in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Today we are going to tell you how to get rid of voles.

What Are Voles?

I am sure you have heard of moles but you may not have heard of voles. These pests are sometimes called field mice or meadow mice. They have a short tail and you cannot see their ears. They are nocturnal and they are granivores. The good new is there are different ways to control voles and you can use one or a combination of methods.

Finding Vole Habitats in Your Garden

The first thing you need to do is identify where the voles live. Look for their runs and holes.

Voles create visible tunnels or "runways," sometimes in an "s" pattern, 1 to 2 inches in width. They may come into your home during the winter and then usually exit to the fields in the summer. They make golf ball sized holes in your lawn or garden and damage the root systems of plants. They also gnaw on the bark of trees, shrubs and roots, and they hide in areas of plentiful ground cover from predators.

Modify Vole Habitat

To get rid of voles, start by clearing away piles of brush where the voles find shelter. Wood piles, raised sheds, trash and low bushes make good places for them to hide. Avoid using mulch around trees and dispose of any ground cover.

Voles gnaw on trees; it's called "girdling." To avoid it, wire your trees with hardware cloth. Press it into the ground without causing damage to the roots. If you are in an area that snows, make sure the tree's fence exceeds the winter snow levels.

Vole Repellants

There are organic environmental control agents that you can sprinkle in your garden, or they also come in spray bottle that attaches to a hose to inoculate an area. These products contain castor oil and they make the voles feel itchy. This is an ongoing process. You are basically herding them from the areas you want them to leave and moving them where you want them to stay.

Start applying in the center of an area. Do not apply a ring around the area because this will trap them in the area you want them to exit from. You can also trap the voles. You can do this with snap traps by finding their holes and placing a snap trap in the opening or you can dig into an active tunnel and place a snap trap with the trigger facing the hole and cover it with a rock. What you will want to do with a snap trap is drill a hole and put like a four inch nail through the top so it holds it in place when it snaps.

You can also place several snap traps around the vole hole and place a bucket over the the top which keeps out the sunlight and other animals like squirrels and cats. Bird seed or grass seed are good choices for bait. 

Live Trapping Voles

Live trapping is another alternative. Locate the runs where they are active and nestle the trap close to the run. Put the traps out in the early evening and then check them early in the morning. Many times you will catch more than one. Be careful taking them out and dispose of them properly. 

Many vole poisons are available at your local hardware store or online. Of course, there is always your trusted barnyard cat to help you out.

Voles can do a lot of damage to your garden but by taking the right measures, you can get rid of them and take your garden back.

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