Bank Vole – Clethrionomys glareolus


A common small rodent of woodland, scrub and hedgerows. Occurs throughout the British mainland, but not quite so common in the more open country preferred by the very similar field vole.

Bank voles are good climbers and will often use the disused nest of a hedgerow bird as its larder.

They are highly vocal, often squeaking and chattering, sometimes using sounds too high in pitch to be detected by humans. Predators include owls, kestrels, weasels and foxes.

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Length 8 – 12 cm, plus tail 4 – 6 cm. About the size of a small hamster.


Reddish-brown with white under-parts. They have slightly longer faces than the field voles and larger eyes and ears, and longer tails.


Generally nocturnal but emerge sometimes in sunlight. Make shallow burrows, partly underground, which form runs in banks under ivy or exposed bush roots.


Breed April September. Females produce 4 – 5 litters of 3 – 5 young per year. Sexually mature at 5 weeks with a maximum lifespan in the wild of about 18 months.


Drill 45 cm burrows from the runs leading to sleeping chambers lined with chewed grass and stores.


Mainly grain, nuts, roots, bulbs, seeds, green vegetables. Will also eat insects, worms, snails and sometimes the smaller voles.

Population: Pre-breeding season estimated to be in excess of 23 million.