What Damage Can Voles Do to Your Property?

When talking about rodent pests, the first question that arises is usually about diseases, and the second – about property damage. And voles are not an exception. Like many other rodents, voles can be very damaging in their quest for food and reproduction. These little outdoor “meadow mice” are subterranean dwellers that love to nibble on people’s plants, grass, trees, and vegetables. As such, they can cause a great deal of damage to any outdoor property in a very short amount of time.

So, what exactly are the types of vole damage you should look out for?

What property damage can voles cause?

Upon hearing “property damage”, most people think of their homes and other man-made structures. Finding a vole in your house is a rare thing, however. These little critters don’t really look to get inside our homes because they have other targets – our yards and gardens. Even though there are omnivores, like most rodents, voles have a strong preference for grasses and roots. They like to run around in their thin subterranean tunnels and eat the vital parts of most plants and even trees. As a result, the main type of property damage you can expect from voles has to do with your lawn or garden and all the vegetation in it.

Voles in yard

Even if you have a simple yard with a grass lawn and a tree in the corner, a vole family will still be happy to settle in. The roots of the grass are more than enough of a food source for voles to start digging their little vole holes in the soil.

vole hole for nesting

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The frustrating thing about voles is that they won’t even eat the whole grass blades – they’ll eat off the roots and bases of the grass and leave the rest to rot. That’s why if you see even a little patch of dead or damaged grass, you can and should start suspecting vole presence.

Keep in mind that voles also love to nibble at the roots of young trees. If you’ve just planted one or more young trees in your yard, any vole in the vicinity will be more than happy to pay your yard a visit and maybe settle in. If such a tree gets attached by voles you can expect to soon see it waning away from not getting the nutrients that it needs to survive.

Eating your grass and trees isn’t the only way voles will damage your yard, however. As their colonies keep growing and growing, voles will spread their tunnels all throughout your yard. And since these tunnels are subterranean but lose to the soil’s surface, they’ll easily and quickly start to damage the surface of your yard. An extensive vole tunnels system can often become visible from above by simply noticing where the ground is crumbling and falling. This can be especially devastating for the structure of your yard during the winter months when it’s covered with snow and the voles can keep digging undisturbed.

Voles in garden

The voles’ damage to a garden is similar to that to a yard, only even more problematic. Just as they love to eat grass, flowers, and the roots of young trees, voles also love the taste of certain vegetables. They can also eat other smaller animals and insects, which, fortunately, is not that much of a problem for us. Their appetite for our veggies’ tubers and roots is problematic, however. Voles can make quick work of any row of vegetables and leave it dead and useless.

sweet potato damaged by a vole

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Finding a vole nest in your garden means that every piece of vegetation is at risk. What’s more, since voles can carry diseases just like other rodents, having their urine and droppings all over and inside your garden’s soil is that last thing you’d want. Vole droppings can carry plenty of problematic viruses and bacteria, so finding even just a couple of voles in your garden could mean that you’ll need to dig everything up and throw away essentially your whole garden’s produce and soil.

Can voles get indoors at all?

Technically, voles can be seen indoors too, but that’s rare and it’s even rarer that the vole got their intentionally. Voles have no interest in being indoors unless they’ve located a great deal of easily accessible stored food or vegetation. Even then they’d rather stick to their tunnels from where they can easily nibble at your garden’s grass, flowers, trees, and vegetables.

In other words, even if you’ve encountered a wandering vole inside your house, garage, or warehouse, worrying about property damage to it will likely not be necessary. That is, as long as it was actually a vole and not another rodent species.

What do vole nests look like?

Voles’ nests become intricate networks of subterranean tunnels that often are weirdly close to the surface of the ground. They live like this because of the protection these tunnels give them from their numerous predators. Unfortunately for us, these long, extensive, and complicated tunnel systems can be devastating for our yard’s or garden’s soil.

Can voles bring on a larger problem with them?

Voles aren’t exactly at the top of their respective food change. In fact, they are nearer the bottom. As such, if your property gets infested with voles it may soon get infested with other pests as well. The voles’ list of main predators includes snakes, coyotes, weasels, cats, and others. These can, in turn, create their own set of problems such as transmit diseases, harm us or our pets, and so on.


Voles may be non-aggressive and uninterested in getting into our homes, but they can still cause a great deal of damage to our outdoor property. Even if your yard or lawn doesn’t have any specific vegetation on it other than the grass, it can still be an attractive target to a vole colony. Keeping your yard and property well-protected with subterranean fences and vole repellents is often a great idea.

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