How to Get Rid of Voles In Your Garden

how to get rid of voles

I go out to the garden I have been working on in the backyard and find that the little rats have been at it again. I cannot believe that my trees have been gnawed at and that all my plants are lying around eaten haphazardly. Disgust fills me as I rant and rave. It’s time to go and ask some questions from exterminators and then later, Google.

As it turns out, Google sure knows something about this kind of problem and as I go through the ideas pitched at me, I realize that there could be someone out there who needs this kind of help to make sure that they does not lose their precious backyard to the rats because they breed like crazy and eat like crazier.

So, I sit down to write this.

What is a Vole Really?

Well, am glad you asked because I just became an expert at getting rid of those rats. They have half disk ears, round black eyes and a furry body with smooth shiny skin. At least that’s what they look like when they are enjoying the spring and the summer and there is lots of my food to go around. They look kind of cute in a way.

The cuteness goes away when they decide to go through your yard eating everything. And after several breeding sessions, you will have an infestation at your hands. Unlike the mole that has been so glorified that we forget about little old vole, they do not leave mounds around as they built a state-of-the-art underground ‘metro’ system that will amaze you if you were to get a copy of the blueprints.


Their engineering skills allow them to dig without leaving behind piles of volcano shaped soil mounds and the only way you will know you got them in your yard is if they start eating your plants and if you cave in the roof in one of their ‘subway systems’.

Identifying Them

They have certain physical characteristics that make them very easy to identify especially if you have ever seen rats. Just picture rats but with brown and or blackish fur, about 5.8 inches in length including the tail, small everything: eyes, nose, tail, feet and body.

Their subways will start appearing especially if you walk around back there and stomp on the ground. Because they construct two inches or so under the surface, you are bound to crumble something. They will be running in a maze pattern manner. If you are keen, you will also observe poop with grass in it in their tunnels.

Methods of Controlling Voles

Now, we get to the juicy parts, exterminating the furry little voles. There have been so many methods that are pitched by so many people about how to do this but here, I will only talk about the stuff that works. No BS’ing is allowed when it comes to the serious matter of saving the backyard that you have tended so well.

When it comes to the methods that one can use to control the vermin, I decided to select only the best and that means the ones that work. Not just any method that is thrown at me. these proved o be the most effective ones and I think you will find them quite useful.

Method #1: Making The Backyard a Living Hell for Our Little Pests

Yes, you read that right. It is the best way to do this and it always works as it is the number one recommended method if you are to get rid of voles. By making their subway home an uninhabitable place, you will be sending them packing in a matter of hours or a few days at best.

These are some of the top ways that you can use if you are to keep voles in a state of panic and unrest.

i. Clearing the Dirt Piles

Whenever you pop around to the backyard, a take cover order is given and they all take cover in the piles of dirt and plants that you keep around. That makes them invisible to you and that is why you have to make sure that if there are voles in your yard, they have no cover at all.

Without cover, they will risk outside trips less and less and very soon, they will be driven away by starvation. I know that this sounds cruel but it’s your garden/yard we are talking about here. Raking and leveling of the grounds works perfectly well.

ii. Take Away Their Food

Voles have a feast when nuts and fruits like apples fall around in your yard. That is why you have to rake away all the tree needles and keep the area ‘Vole Food Free’ at all times. When you are throwing or pears and apple cores among other fruits; do not place them near trees, a vole will finish the apple and go for the tree bark.

iii. Garden Your Yard

Okay, if you don’t want to do some serious gardening, you should at least dig the yard just to disrupt their underground trails and expose them to the air outside. This will make it easier for you to control the voles. Therefore, do some digging in the yard and watch them run, and if you have a sense of humor, laugh like a maniac at their fleeing tails.

iv. Barricade The Trees

This means that you have to get some really thin mesh covers that will ensure they cannot gnaw your trees in winter. Also, clear away any snow that is around the trees as this will make the ground more exposed and the little things will not have a shelter that can avail them food.

If you can get heavy duty cloth, that will also help keep them away. Make sure to keep the snow clearing at least three feet in radius from the tree as they can make a one foot dash to keep eating. Remember, we are making this hell for them.

Method #2: Using Traps

voles trap

I was surprised to find that there are states which have made it illegal to poison or relocate the voles that you may be having in your yard. This means that you need to check if it’s legal to hunt them down and or kill them with poison or trap them even.

If you consider this is a method of trapping the voles, you will need to check the traps daily to see if you have caught anything. This will ensure that when you are trapping them, you effectively do so. If you are uncomfortable carrying little dead voles around every day, you can have one time traps.

However, remember to remove the carcasses as other voles, insects and dangerous animals can come to eat them. You will not like that kind of attention in your backyard. Also remember that the traps will work when it’s their breeding and mating seasons. Spoil their fun as much as possible.

Placing the traps in entrances and sideways in their paths will work better to trap more of them. They should also be rotated and relocate everyday because voles too can remember where they last saw death. Use the best bait that they like so much for example apples and peanut butter.

Method #3: Poisoning

Poisoning the voles is also very effective when you want your subway engineers gone. Use it properly with the right equipment that allows for safe handling and disposing. First of all, you need to find the right poison that will kill the voles effectively. Make sure you give them death, not a stomachache.

If it is illegal to poison the voles in your area or state, there are more methods that you can explore as we drive the invaders out of their comfort zone.

Method #4 Relocation

My friends who cannot stand the thought of killing vermin, here is a method that you can use to get rid of the voles. By using the traps, you will be able to capture them alive and move them to a new place. Preferably a forest far away where they cannot be able to come back with you. This is cleaner and more preferable as you do not have to cart away bodies.

This is recommended because despite how fast they breed everybody who cares about animals worries that they might get depleted overnight. Therefore, we must preserve them, even he pesky ones that threaten to engulf us.

Prevention of Vole Invasion

They came slowly and I never even noticed. By the time my plants started dying, it was too late to save them. Therefore, I can’t think of a reason why you should not prevent a second attack (am assuming you are reading this because you had the problem already).

Now, we keep them away forever.

  • Remember to clear your garden regularly
  • Have fences that discourage digging rodents
  • Do not throw attractions in your backyard. This will just attract them (duh!)

 Anyway, one thing has become clear in this whole repertoire about the rat-like creatures, they can be done away with and despite the fact that you may not have encountered them before, I am confident that the ammunition you have now is enough.

The Final Verdict

Voles are not that famous, moles are. However little vole might be on the rating of digging pests in the world out there, his family sure does a lot more than just stay behind the curtains of the most wanted pests show.

About the Author

I’m Emily and after a ten year career as a journalist I have moved on to share my passion for gardening. While getting out in the garden is one of my favourite hobbies, and helps me de-stress after a long day in the office, I often found myself frustrated at not getting the results I wanted from my plants. Through blogging, I have uncovered the answer to lots of common problems and now I want to share my knowledge with other horticulture enthusiasts.

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