[nafex] Voles and Controlling Them

Henry treehugger53ah at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 9 07:52:52 EDT 2016

This video shows a test of the JT Eaton Wind Up Multiple Catch Mouse Trap


I have never used one so am not endorsing it.

--Henry Fieldseth 
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, zone 4

On Fri, 7/8/16, Steve Herje <loneroc1 at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [nafex] Voles and Controlling Them
 To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
 Date: Friday, July 8, 2016, 12:43 PM
 Anyone know what brand of trap
 they're referring to?  The only one I found
 on line got pretty poor
 reviews.   Thanks.  Steve H. Lone Rock
 On Jul 4, 2016 10:24 AM, "Lawrence London" <lfljvenaura at gmail.com>
 Voles and Controlling Them
 Tunneling Rodents that eat plants
 [image: image of pine vole]
 One of many Vole (Microtus) species, the Pine Vole is a bit
 smaller and has
 a shorter tail than the Meadow Vole.
 [image: close up of vole face]
 Unlike moles, voles are mostly plant eaters. These images
 show the tiny
 eyes, small, delicate feet and stubby tail which help
 identify voles. While
 moles will make long, ridged tunnels visible from above
 ground, voles tend
 to scratch out more invisible runways. Often, moles will
 serve as the
 "highway crew" and make tunnels in search of grubs and
 worms. Voles will
 often follow the mole tunnels and eat the plants which the
 moles ignore.
 Entire apple orchards have been lost to vole damage and we
 have seen fairly
 large chestnut trees killed by voles that ate their roots
 off. We have lost
 thousands of plants and countless vegetables to the
 voracious voles. There
 are very few plants that voles will not eat. They can have
 several litters
 a year, with 1-11 young per litter. Yikes!
 Most voles are in the genus Microtus. Despite being the most
 common mammal,
 they are seldom seen because they are usually hidden beneath
 mulch, leaf
 litter and earth. While many people believe cats can control
 voles, this is
 almost never true, especially with vole species that travel
 deeper in the
 earth. Natural predators include owls, foxes, wolves,
 weasels, shrews and
 snakes. The Mole snake, or Mole King snake (Lampropeltis
 rhombomaculata) is
 one of the few predators which can follow vole tunnels and
 so is one of the
 better predators. Unfortunately, control by predators is
 satisfactory in a garden setting. While some poisons are
 listed for vole
 control, these can be dangerous to other animals and must be
 used with
 extreme care. We prefer to use several different kinds of
 mouse traps,
 along with physical barriers that inhibit voles (or moles)
 from tunneling
 into garden areas.
 Using Barriers
 In some gardens, especially vegetable gardens, it is
 possible to make a
 trench around the garden, about a foot deep. This is more
 easily done right
 after the garden is tilled. Most voles, tunneling right
 beneath the
 surface, tend to turn back when they hit the trench and they
 are reluctant
 to cross on top of the ground. It helps to make a trench
 down to harder
 ground, if possible. Vigilance is necessary and gardeners
 should be on the
 lookout for new holes on the garden side of the trench. Rob
 has grown
 potatoes and parsnips in vole infested areas using this
 method. Mulch or
 straw should be avoided in vole problem areas.
 In some cases, such as a bog garden or flower bed, it may be
 more effective
 to remove the soil and line the bog or bed with galvanized
 steel mesh
 (hardware cloth), a layer of rock, or heavy-duty weed
 barrier. Any barrier
 needs to be without underground openings and extend to the
 surface. (See
 our Bog Making web page for more details.) While voles can
 chew through
 weed cloth, they usually don't, especially if one patrols
 the perimeter and
 collapses any approaching tunnels. We havebog gardens
 protected in this
 fashion. Doubling or tripling a weed cloth layer helps.
 Again, avoid
 mulches and look for new entry tunnels. Snow can be a
 problem, since voles
 will travel quickly on top of the ground, under cover of
 Trapping Voles
 Traps can be one of the better methods of vole control.
 Traps are best set
 during the evening and are more effective if you can cover
 the traps with a
 box, plastic pots, or anything to make the spot darker while
 still allowing
 the traps room for motion. Here, the most successful bait
 has been Granny
 Smith apple, cut into pea-sized pieces. Traps should be
 placed just outside
 of tunnel entryways. A couple pieces of apple, dropped into
 the tunnel,
 allows the aroma to draw in the rodents. Try to trap an
 area, not just a
 single tunnel. Traps should be checked daily, especially
 live traps.
 We've tried a couple designs in live traps, some of which
 can catch up to
 fifteen mice or voles. So far, the best results have been
 with the type of
 repeater trap that has a wind-up spring. A paddle wheel
 flips the rodents
 into a metal chamber. It's important to put some apple
 inside the trap, in
 the "holding" area, in the metal pathway and also where the
 rodents can't
 get to the bait-inside the metal box on the trapping
 mechanism side of the
 device. Usually, the top on these traps slides off. Be sure
 to check the
 trap at least daily. The advantage of live traps is that you
 can release
 other animals that might accidentally get caught. We have
 caught shrews,
 lizards and even a flying squirrel in these traps. If you
 are not familiar
 with small mammals, you might want to pick up a field guide
 to mammals.
 Shrews, for example are good to release as they feed
 primarily on insects,
 worms and rodent young. Shrews often live in the same area
 as voles. While
 sharing the features of tiny eyes and small feet, shrews
 have pointy noses
 and sharp teeth. Use caution releasing shrews, they are
 occasionally fierce
 and confront much larger animals, even people! Most folks
 drown voles in a
 five gallon bucket of water. If you want to release them far
 away, a meadow
 is usually suitable; just don't release voles in
 cultivated/farmed areas.
 Regular, snap type mouse traps can be very effective in
 killing voles. When
 baiting this style of trap, try to cut pea-sized pieces of
 apple that
 include some skin. If the skin is slid under the bait bar's
 hook or teeth,
 it will be harder for a rodent to steal the bait. Again,
 drop a couple
 pieces of apple inside tunnels. Voles often turn
 cannibalistic and a trap
 with fragments of skin usually indicates additional voles.
 There is another style of repeater mouse trap which does not
 have a paddle
 wheel. This type has entry ramps that are spring loaded or
 weighted. Rodents go in but can't get out. So far, we have
 had poor results
 with this type of trap. Voles are bigger than common mice.
 For this reason,
 the less expensive, plastic, live mouse traps may not work
 well or at all.
 Whatever methods you use to control Voles, be vigilant and
 scout for
 shallow tunnels or evidence of new infestations. Extending
 the control area
 beyond the gardens you're protecting is a good idea.
 Ignoring Vole problems
 can lead to disastrous overpopulation and the inability to
 grow most
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