Voles, Gophers or Moles?

How Can I Tell the Difference?

It is possible that you may have voles, gophers, and moles all on the same property! Sometimes there is confusion figuring out what type of pest(s) you have because all three of these pests live the majority of their lives underground and are seldom seen.

 

Determine what pest you have by looking
for the signs of their activity.

Map of Regional Pests in the US
 

Vole signs

Different types of voles exhibit different signs.

Below Ground Foraging Vole Types have a network of tunnels underground and under the mulch, and they damage plants from below the ground. They are rarely seen above ground and only have a few burrow openings. Below ground foraging voles such as the pine vole like to make tunnels or runs along house foundations, stone walls, and among perennials and groundcovers. Look for their presence by locating their circular burrow entrances not more than 1" -1 ½" in size and by lifting mulch to reveal long narrow trenches or runways that are serpentine and wind around obstructions. Their tunnel system makes the soil feel soft and spongy under foot. Many times moles are blamed for this damage because voles can use mole tunnels to reach plant roots and bulbs.

Burrow Entrance in Hardwood Mulch Shrub that is dying due to voles eating the roots Tunnel and Burrows

 

 

Above Ground Foraging Vole Types create above ground grassy runways in the turf areas that connect to multiple burrow openings grouped in the same area. They damage lawns by eating the grass to make their clipped runways, as well as gnawing on the bark of trees and shrubs.

Sometimes the Above Ground Foraging Vole Type can exhibit characteristics of voles that forage below ground as well.

Network of Surface Trails Picture provided by T Bacchus of WA Meadow Vole Lawn Damage Picture provided by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.

 

If you have the signs of voles, then follow the 4 Steps of Vole Control
beginning here with Step 1.

 

Gopher signs (also called Pocket Gophers)

Mounds are formed as the gopher digs its tunnel and pushes the loose dirt to the surface. The mounds they create are usually fan shaped and clustered in an area which is characteristic evidence of their presence. Mounds of fresh soil are a sign of pocket gopher presence within a tunnel system. The hole, which is off to one side of the mound is usually plugged, keeping intruders out of burrows.

 

Gopher MoundPicture provided by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp. Pocket Gopher SystemPicture provided by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp. Gopher Mud CastPicture provided by T Bacchus of WA

 

Click here to see a side view of a gopher mound compared to a mole mound.

How to determine if a pocket gopher occupies a tunnel system
An easy method to determine if a pocket gopher occupies a tunnel system is to simply dig open the tunnel. If a gopher lives in the tunnel, the hole will be plugged within a day or two.

 

If you have the signs of gophers, then click here to discover how to control them.

Bypass Details - order Gopher Bait Now!

 

Mole signs

Mole mounds are sometimes mistaken for gopher mounds. Mole mounds, however, appear circular and have a plug in the middle that may or not be easily seen. Mole mounds are volcano-shaped. Unlike gophers, moles commonly burrow just beneath the surface, creating a raised ridge along their path.

Moles and voles cause different types of damage. Moles make raised burrows in your lawn, ground cover, and shrub areas and their tunneling activity raises the soil into ridges. They are searching for worms and grubs to eat - not roots. When voles make their tunnels searching for roots to eat, they do not create raised ridges.

Signs of Mole Activity near a driveway. Mole Mound
This picture shows signs of mole activity. Moles feed on earthworms and grubs in the lawn and their tunneling activity raises the soil into ridges. Their most active tunnels occur along a permanent structure such as a driveway or walkway. Below you can see the hills or mounds around their exit holes.

 

If you have the signs of moles, then click here to discover how to control them.

Bypass Details - order Mole Control Now!