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Meadow Vole

Meadow Vole

Conservation status

Least Concern
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Cricetidae
Genus: Microtus
Subgenus: Mynomes
Species: M. pennsylvanicus
Binomial name
Microtus pennsylvanicus
(Ord, 1815)

The Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), sometimes called the Field Mouse or Meadow Mouse, is a small North American vole found across Canada, Alaska and the northern United States. Its range extends further south along the Atlantic coast. One subspecies, the Florida Salt Marsh Vole (M. p. dukecampbelli), is found in Florida, and is classified as endangered.

The Meadow Vole has a chunky cylindrical body with short legs and a short tail which is darker on top. Its fur varies from grey-brown to dark-brown with silver-grey underparts. Its short ears are barely visible through its fur. It is 16 cm long with a 5 cm tail and weighs about 50 g.

This animal is found in moist open areas. It makes runways through the surface growth in warm weather and tunnels through the snow in winter. It feeds on grasses, sedges and seeds, sometimes eating snails and insects. Predators include owls, snakes and various carnivorous mammals.

Female voles have three to six litters of four to seven young in a year. The Meadow Vole typically lives much less than a year; however, in captivity it can live as long as three years. The vole population in any given area tends to pass through a boom and bust cycle over a three- or four-year period.   It is active year-round, usually at night. It also digs underground burrows where it stores food for the winter and females give birth to their young. Although this animal tends to live close together, it is aggressive towards each other. This is particularly evident in males during the breeding season. It can cause damage to fruit trees, garden plants and commercial grain crops.

The Meadow Vole can make an excellent pet but needs fresh grasses and seeds daily. It is partial to clover, dandelions and sunflower seeds.

The Meadow Vole has previously been used as a bioindicator to monitor chemical leakage around Love Canal and radiation releases in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island Accident.

See also

Gull Island Vole, M. p. nesophilus - a subspecies of the Meadow Vole.


  • Baillie (1996). Microtus pennsylvanicus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 10 May 2006.
  • Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. Pp. 894-1531 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Meadow_Vole". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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