Common Vole

Common Vole

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Microtus arvalis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
4.5 mos
WEIGHT
22-51 g
LENGTH
97-128 mm

Common voles are small European rodents. The color of their fur on the back can vary from light brown to darkish gray-brown, sometimes with an admixture of brown-rusty tones. The abdomen is usually dirty gray in color, sometimes with a yellowish-buffy coating.

Distribution

Common voles are found in large areas of Eurasia apart from the British Isles (with the exception of the Orkney Islands). They inhabit forests, pastures, meadows, heathlands, and agricultural fields, where shallow sloped areas are preferred.

Common Vole habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Common voles are diurnal animals and remain active all year round. They are social and maintain aboveground runways, which expand like a railway system through the entire home range. Voles are seldom seen outside these runways, which enable faster and safer locomotion and easier orientation. They are not good climbers and live in underground nests dug 30 to 40 cm deep into the ground. These nests are used for food storage, offspring raising, and as a place for rest and sleep. Nests can be shared and defended by up to 5 females with juveniles that are related in most cases. Females are territorial while males do not maintain territories and during the mating season move between several females’ territories. Common voles communicate with each other visually and vocally using a high-pitched squeal. When feeling threatened they either freeze hoping to stay unnoticed or run away and hide in their underground burrow.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Common voles are herbivores feeding on green parts of grass, herbaceous plants, and various agricultural crops. Occasionally they may eat mollusks, insects, and their larvae. In winter, Common voles gnaw the bark of shrubs and trees, including berries and fruits, seeds, and underground parts of plants.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
March-October
PREGNANCY DURATION
16-24 days
BABY CARRYING
3-8 pups
INDEPENDENT AGE
20 days
BABY NAME
pup

Common voles are polygynous and males move as so-called "floaters" between several females’ territories in order to mate as often as possible. The breeding season starts in March and ends in October; during this time females can raise more than one litter. After the gestation period of 16 to 24 days, females give birth to 3 to 8 pups, weighing between 1 and 3.1 g. They are usually weaned on the 20th day of birth. Some females start to breed when they are 13 days old while males typically mate at age of 56 days; the latest offspring in the year survives the winter and starts reproduction the following spring.

Population

Population threats

Common voles do not face any major threats at present.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Common vole is widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

References

1. Common Vole on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_vole
2. Common Vole on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/13488/22351133

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