Healthy Living Real Estate

The Anatomy and Behavior of Mice and Voles

Mice are reddish, brown, and black, whereas voles are dark green to gray and have rounded ears and front feet more significant than their hind limbs. They also have eyes and ears so tiny that they can’t be seen from the ground. Prairie voles are small herbivorous rodents native to North America. They are socially monogamous, preferring to interact with familiar mates in dyadic or group interactions.

Physical Characteristics

There are more than 100 species of mouse vs vole, each with unique characteristics. They are a common problem in many parts of the world and can cause severe damage to your garden and lawn. They have short tails and legs, are covered in fur, and have two sets of tiny eyes buried in their body fur. They are commonly called field mice and meadow mice. They are minimal, ranging from 8 to 23 cm (3-9 inches) in length, depending on the species. Females produce litters of three to seven pups every year. Males do not assist in raising the pups.


Mice are opportunistic feeders that eat a variety of foods. They are particularly attracted to seeds and grains, which are rich in carbohydrates. They also eat pet food, nuts, fruit, meats, and leftovers from dinner. Voles are omnivorous, meaning they can eat plants, grasses, fruits, carrion, and seeds. They can also gnaw on dead rodents and are known to cause damage to lawns, plants, and crops. They breed throughout the year and have 1 to 5 litters per year. Their gestation period is 21 days, and females sexually mature at about 35 to 40 days of age. The mating and parental care of voles are highly variable depending on the conditions of the habitat. When the population is relatively strong, and resources are structurally consistent, a monogamous mode of reproduction is chosen; however, in situations where there is no balance between the strengths of the males and females, polygamy is preferred.


Breeding is one of the essential functions of mice and voles. Females may bear litter at any time of year when food is available, but more occur in spring and autumn. In nature, meadow voles prefer open grassy areas and grassy openings within forests, abandoned fields, bogs, and alpine tundra. This species grazes on seeds, tubers, bulbs, and woody plants. They also feed on fruit and flower buds before they are ripe. Field mice sometimes bite off strawberries and other fruits and leave them in soft piles on the soil surface. Breeding is a complex process. It involves vaginal cytology, which shows traditional estrous cycle patterns in some species but not others. In some species, ovulation occurs 12-18 h after copulation.


Mice and voles are omnivores that eat plants, grains, fruit, nuts, and insects. They live in a variety of habitats, including grasslands and woodlands. Like many species, mice, and voles also have complex social behaviors, ranging from intra-pair affiliation to extra-pair aggression. These behaviors are essential to their survival and reproduction and are often subject to natural selection. In addition to forming specific social bonds with their mates, mice, and voles also demonstrate selectivity for familiar individuals, which may be based on prosocial motivation or avoidance of unfamiliar individuals. A significant line of research in this area uses prairie voles (Peromyscus californicus) as a model species that demonstrate a variety of social bonds, including monogamy. These relationships are characterized by a preference for the mate over sex-matched strangers in the partner preference test and defensive territoriality and distress when separated from the pair mate. In addition, prairie voles can display various social behaviors in the lab that are not present in other rodent species. These include intra-pair affiliation, extra-pair aggression, and nest building.


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