Voles

Submitted by externmed on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 19:40

I see the battery operated "sonic" stakes which are supposed to repel "moles". I wonder if anyone has any experience with them to repel voles. Zinc phosphide gopher bait seems to work, mostly; but it would be nice if there were something (?) simpler.
Charles S Massachusetts USA

Comments


Submitted by Reed on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 20:26

A shot gun!  ;D, No! but really, If you have a lot of property try and attract natural predators. Owl boxes have worked for some of my friends but they need to be perched up at a specific height and that depends on the species for them to work. Here is a website you might like to view. The Sonic things don't work.
 
http://www.volecontrol.com/product_shop.html


Submitted by Mark McD on Fri, 10/22/2010 - 20:42

externmed wrote:

I see the battery operated "sonic" stakes which are supposed to repel "moles".  I wonder if anyone has any experience with them to repel voles.  Zinc phosphide gopher bait seems to work, mostly; but it would be nice if there were something (?) simpler.
Charles S Massachusetts USA

Charles, the moles/voles are going nuts this year (as they do most years), they have all summer, but in the autumn they really become active.  There can be so much activity in just one day, with a zig-zag patchwork of raised-mound tunneling in the lawn that it is scary! When I walk the lawn, feels like I'm walking on a bog, each step sinking down a few inches! I use the pelleted bait, lots of it, in fact I baited lots more this morning.  It works but it is constant warfare.  They seem to come in from the fringes of my property, from the high field grass, then move their way through the lawn and up the hill towards where my garden beds are... they're getting close.  I also have a couple dry woodland areas, one I'm partially consigned to give up on, just leaving the most die-hard common plants there, and moving all of the choicer stuff to a part of the yard that is not so ravaged by tunneling.

Then chipmunks also use these tunnels, and do their own tunneling as well, my second arch nemesis in the garden.  Their constant tunneling is typically adjacent to stone walls and not a problem in the middle of the yard and garden.  And don't even get me going on %[email protected]#*! squirrels.  ;-)

I should investigate some of the other vole/mole controls, so will look into Jame's website suggestion.


Submitted by Peter George on Wed, 11/10/2010 - 15:33

I have 3 cats, all of which are outside during the day and sometimes at night. I have no chipmunks, no voles, and almost no squirrels. That's all I can say about the issue. Of course every day I have to bury one or two rodents, but that is a satisfactory tradeoff.


Submitted by Mark McD on Wed, 11/10/2010 - 21:08

RickR wrote:

For voles, this is the best solution I've seen yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9cFspBjb-U

Thanks Rick, the video is terrific, I'm off to the hardware store tomorrow to improvise a similar solution... I have voles, moles and shrews... Yay!


Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 11/11/2010 - 00:36

Mark, shrews are carnivores! They eat insects so they are beneficial animals.


Submitted by Mark McD on Thu, 11/11/2010 - 07:03

Hoy wrote:

Mark, shrews are carnivores! They eat insects so they are beneficial animals.

It's a widely held misconception... there are studies showing that while their diet is supposedly insectivorous, they do indeed opportunistically eat plants, roots, bulbs, etc.  Secondarily, their extensive tunneling is not beneficial, the tunnels are often reused by chipmunks or moles and in particular, voles (the latter, as pointed out in the video). I have posted on a number of forums similar discussions with links to such sites and studies... if I can put my hands on them again, I'll post here.  Long and short of it, none of these creatures are beneficial in the garden; their damage to plants, lawns and plant beds outweighs any benefits.


Submitted by Peter George on Thu, 11/11/2010 - 08:32

I live on 4 acres, with about 2 acres wooded. I have stone walls, 3 feet high in most places, around the majority of the property. My neighbor to the south has 13 acres, 11 of which are wetland/swamp, and my home is within 1/2 mile of hundreds of square miles of conservation land, primarily forest. As much as I love animals I love my gardens more, and I have no compunction about keeping my 2 critical acres free of rodents via feline murder. I have made it VERY difficult for the cats to get to the birds, so I almost never find a dead bird, and I have dozens of feeders around the property. So for me, now essentially rodent free, it's heaven. All I have to worry about is the weather, and an occasional herd of cows and bulls that wanders around free every few months. Last year they managed to spend 3 hours on my property without doing any real damage. The next time, however, I'm sure I'd lose half my plants.


Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 11/11/2010 - 10:44

McDonough wrote:

Hoy wrote:

Mark, shrews are carnivores! They eat insects so they are beneficial animals.

It's a widely held misconception... there are studies showing that while their diet is supposedly insectivorous, they do indeed opportunistically eat plants, roots, bulbs, etc.  Secondarily, their extensive tunneling is not beneficial, the tunnels are often reused by chipmunks or moles and in particular, voles (the latter, as pointed out in the video). I have posted on a number of forums similar discussions with links to such sites and studies... if I can put my hands on them again, I'll post here.  Long and short of it, none of these creatures are beneficial in the garden; their damage to plants, lawns and plant beds outweighs any benefits.

If you say so I believe you. But I have never heard of shrews eating anything but insects and other animals without backbones here in Norway. They are small animals too and not tunneling in the soil either. They are seldom seen in the garden at all.
Fortunately we are free of moles and chipmunks but voles and other rodents like mice and rats can be problematic.


Submitted by Mark McD on Fri, 11/12/2010 - 05:47

Hoy wrote:

If you say so I believe you. But I have never heard of shrews eating anything but insects and other animals without backbones here in Norway. They are small animals too and not tunneling in the soil either. They are seldom seen in the garden at all.
Fortunately we are free of moles and chipmunks but voles and other rodents like mice and rats can be problematic.

I was trying to find an excellent university study that shows not only what has been found in the digestive tract of various shrews and moles, but the relative percentage of food types found, and it was surprising that herbivorous foods constituted a higher percentage than what is commonly thought.  I still haven't located that study, but if I do, I will post it here.

The topic is not black and white, as there are so many shrew species and subspecies, with various habits, habitats and characteristics.  It is a dark and unsavory world when reading up on their insectivorus & carnivorous predation, yikes!  Anyways, here's a snippet of pertinent info I gathered up, most from the first link mentioned below, but also culled from other sites.

http://www.bobpickett.org/order_insectivora.htm

PYGMY SHREW (Sorex hoyi) Named for Dr. Philip Hoy. Trond, any relationship?
Some herbivorous foods and carrion have been recorded in pygmy stomachs.
By weight, probably the smallest mammal in the world, weighing about the same as a dime
The burrows are the size of a large earthworm hole.

CINEREUS or MASKED SHREW, Common Shrew  (Sorex cinereus) - I believe we have this one.
Diet: Insects, earthworms, other shrews, small mice, snails, slugs, and some vegetable matter.
Masked shrew does not make it’s own runways, travels and hunts in subterranean tunnels made by itself or other rodents
"Vegetable and plant materials make up a very small portion of their diet and are eaten only when other food sources are unavailable."

In winter, shrews, like voles, are subnivean, tunneling in snow (mice generally do not tunnel).  The annual over-winter devastation to my lawn is from tunneling at the plane in which snow meets soil, is amazing... takes a lot of work to rake it all out and patch the network of surface runways.

SOUTHEASTERN SHREW (Sorex longirostris)
They are also known to have munched on some vegetation.

NORTHERN SHORT-TAILED SHREW  (Blarina brevicauda)
Also will eat roots, berries and nuts.
These shrews make runways in the grass or in leaf litter ½ to ¾" wide
Tunnels and trails of moles and voles are also used

Vagrant Shrew (Sorex vagrans) Western USA & Canada
Insectivorous, but a food generalist, including variety of herbs and shrubs.

EASTERN MOLE (Scalopus aquaticus) - our primary foe here
Sixteen subspecies are recognized in North America, with eight subspecies recognized in eastern US
    *Foraging tunnels just under the surface (creating well-known surface mounds) can be dug at ten to twenty feet per hour.
  **It has been reported that eastern moles can dig up to 100 feet of tunnel in a day.
***The longest recorded tunnel was traced along a fence line for 3,300 feet.

STAR-NOSED MOLE (Condylura cristata) - also in my yard, weird little creatures
Burrow openings surrounded by excavated soil
Star-nosed mole alternates between subterranean and surface runways.  Tunnels are irregular and crooked


Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 11/21/2010 - 10:29

McDonough wrote:

I was trying to find an excellent university study that shows not only what has been found in the digestive tract of various shrews and moles, but the relative percentage of food types found, and it was surprising that herbivorous foods constituted a higher percentage than what is commonly thought.  I still haven't located that study, but if I do, I will post it here.

The topic is not black and white, as there are so many shrew species and subspecies, with various habits, habitats and characteristics.  It is a dark and unsavory world when reading up on their insectivorus & carnivorous predation, yikes!  Anyways, here's a snippet of pertinent info I gathered up, most from the first link mentioned below, but also culled from other sites.

PYGMY SHREW (Sorex hoyi) Named for Dr. Philip Hoy. Trond, any relationship?
The burrows are the size of a large earthworm hole.

Mark, not to my knowledge! Although there are more Norwegians (descendants) in America than in Norway.

I have asked some experts here and they definitely support you regarding the menu of shrews! Well, anyway I have never heard of anybody accusing shrews for damages in the garden. So I don't think they are problematic here.
The field vole, Microtus agrestis is far to fear!


Submitted by Weiser on Sun, 12/05/2010 - 09:15

Peter wrote:

As much as I love animals I love my gardens more, and I have no compunction about keeping my 2 critical acres free of rodents via feline murder.

I agree with Peter! I never have any rodent problems, rabbits don't even venture near my gardens.