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Is it a Mole or a Vole?

Voles and moles are animals who share the same habitats, look similar, and their names even sound the same. There are some very important differences between these two animals that every home owner should know.

Garden Digging Animals: What is a Mole

Most people are familiar with moles, the awkward, long-nosed, blind garden pests that dig tunnels in your back yard. Moles can be found throughout the continental US as well as parts of Alaska and Hawaii. Throughout this range, there are a number of subspecies, including the star nosed mole and the eastern mole, although most share the same characteristics.

mole digging Nashville TN pest

Mole on top of a molehill Green Hills Nashville


Moles use their large and powerful claws to dig tunnels in the earth, which may be your lawn or garden. Since moles are carnivorous, they use their well-honed sense of smell to root out the worms and insects that make up their diet. Despite being cute, these little excavators are the bane of every gardener because their tunneling can damage the root systems of plants and leave beautifully manicured lawns looking like a tunnel maze or Swiss cheese.

Garden Animals: What is a Vole

If you compare the pictures side by side, moles and voles would never be mistaken for one another. Voles bear much more of a similarity to the common mouse, a close relative, and the species’ physical characteristics are much different.

Voles Moles Difference

Photo of a Garden Vole in Nashville

Voles rely on eyesight and hearing much more than smell, which is the moles primary sensory input. Long, naked tails help with balance and can be useful in distinguishing between voles and other common garden pests. There are over 150 different species of voles and they range throughout the northeast and Midwest United States as well as Canada and parts of Alaska. Both moles and voles reside in Tennessee.

Importantly, voles are rodents and their diet is vegetarian. While voles may create or utilize existing tunnels to reach food or hide underground, the damage they cause and methods for catching them differ.
Voles destroy gardens largely by feeding on the plants. They destroy root systems by eating them or damaging the stock and branches of otherwise healthy vegetation. Voles can also damage larger plants such as trees by stripping the bark and gnawing at the trunk. These pests can be managed or eradicated through habitat control, meaning limiting the plants that make up their diet or wrapping vulnerable growth, as well as traditional trapping.

Because moles do not share the same diet, physical characteristics, or habits, the same habitat control techniques and traps or poisons deployed against voles will not work. Because they are blind and slow moving, moles are best caught by trapping, since  you will want to deploy multiple in order to increase the odds of catching one, it is recommended to use a professional mole trapping company. Catching moles quickly reduces damage to yards and gardens. The Molenator recommends you stay away from poisons due to the high toxicity, its ineffectiveness, and negative impact to the surrounding ecosystem.

Are moles tearing up your yard or garden? We can help.

Call or text us at (615) 568-3000