tunneling critters

Asked February 13, 2018, 4:37 PM EST

Can you suggest what critter is digging tunnels in our yard this winter? The number is growing! We haven't experienced anything like this in areas so close to the house in the 20 years we have lived here. Can you suggest any way to fill holes (dogs are really interested and have dug bigger holes) and discourage further tunneling? They are in our vegetable garden and were last summer but didn't cause any damage to any plants so there was no particular panic then.

Benton County Oregon wildlife damage management voles horticulture

1 Response

Hello. Your critters are voles. They are also called meadow mice and look like a mouse with a short tail. They are active night and day all year long and breed all year long. An extensive tunnel system with lots of openings and runways is very typical of voles. They are not easy to get rid of. Since you mentioned dogs a bait is not an option. Voles are notoriously destructive of grass crops and for girdling the bark on shrubs and small trees. I am surprised that you did not have any destruction in your vegetable garden last year, they eat many vegetables grown by home gardeners. I found a vole nest complete with severed green beans deposited just beside a partially consumed potato while harvesting my potato crop one year. During winter months they eat roots of trees. Keep your grass cut short. Clean up debris where they can hide, such as leaves and mulches. Get rid of any tall weeds. This reduces their hiding places and exposes them to predators. Destroying their tunnels is the best way to get rid of them. That means tilling the tunnel system. Traps can also be used. They should be placed perpendicular to the tunnel. Since you have dogs I am not sure how effective traps will be. Your pups may already be depleting the population. If the problem is in the lawn, tilling may be out of the question if you have in ground irrigation. I have included a website with lots of information on voles, their control and the various methods that can be used. http://icwdm.org/handbook/rodents/Voles.asp