Field Vole – Microtus agrestis

Distribution

One of the two most common small rodents of the countryside, found throughout the British mainland, but not in Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Northern Isles.

It prefers more open country than the bank vole and differs by having shaggy, grey-brown fur and a very short and pinker tail than other vole species. Their food is primarily succulent grass stems, but roots, bulbs and bark are also eaten, particularly in winter when fresh vegetation is hard to come by.

Sometimes huge numbers build up, but these ‘plagues’ never last for long, for voles are the prey of almost every open ground predator and none survive for more than one winter.

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Origin:Native.

Size:8 – 10 cm plus tail about a third of body length.

Description:Blunt faces and small eyes. Brownish-red above, white under parts.

Habitat:Rough ungrazed grasslands where the vegetation provides sufficient cover, plantations and moor lands. Usually absent from cropped arable land.

Young:Breed April September; males can breed at 40 days of age, females at 28 days, producing 2 – 7 litters of 4 – 6 young per year.

Nest:Usually above ground at the base of grass stems, sometimes protected by a stone or log. Make small underground cavities in which grass is stored for the winter.

Diet:Chiefly grass stalks and green leaves.

Population:Estimated to be in excess of 75 million after the breeding season.
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