Species – Common Vole (Microtus arvalis)
Habitat: Found in both coniferous and deciduous woodland, marsh, heather moorland, rough grassland and arable farmland.
Description: Very similar to field vole, but has shorter fur, ears and is less hairy.
Size: Head to body : 97-128mm, Tail: 27-44mm.
Origin and distribution: Deliberately introduced now restricted to Guernsey and Orkney islands.
Diet: Herbivorous, feeds on leaves, stems and roots of wide variety of grasses. Has a strong preference for heather.
General Ecology: Common to have a single nest with several entrances that forms a network of runs and tunnels beneath ground surface. Same tunnels used for successive generations of voles. Sleeps and raises young in nest.
Tends to have litters of 2-5 individuals.
Predators are: hen harriers; short eared owls; stoats; kestrels and domestic cats.
Breeding: Breeding season starts in February with pregnant females found between March to November. Both parents spend a long time in nest grooming their young.
Conservation Status: The 2018 Mammal Society’ study in 2018 indicated intensification of agricultural practices within its home range
has a detrimental effect upon the vole population here. As stoats have been introduced to the area recently, these too are having a significant impact on population numbers. Declines in this species are likely to have serious consequences for bird species in the area.