You find trails or tunnels in your yard or garden, it’s tough to know what type of critter conundrum you have. There are three main critters that could be found digging around underground in your lawn: moles, voles or shrews. The easiest way to tell the difference between them is if you are lucky enough to see one, but if not, there are some clues that can help you figure out this tricky puzzle.

What are Moles?

A mole is a type of mammal called an insectivore. Moles are often mistakenly called rodents but they are not actually part of the rodent family. Moles have a pointed snout and very large front feet that help them dig tunnels underground and hunt for earthworms (their favorite), grubs, beetles and other bugs. Because they spend most of their lives digging underground, moles have very tiny ears and eyes—so small, in fact, that they are barely visible. Moles dig an elaborate tunnel system under your yard that is sometimes visible from the surface. Depending how extensive the tunnel system is, it can compromise the integrity of your yard and cause parts of the ground to collapse when walked on, causing injury.

What are Voles?

Voles are a completely different animal from moles, despite their similar sounding names. Voles belong to the rodent family along with mice and rats. Voles somewhat resemble mice but have shorter tails, larger bodies and smaller ears. In some areas, voles are referred to as field mice or meadow mice, although they are not technically a mouse. Voles lack the enlarged feet of the mole and create burrows rather than tunnels. Voles prefer to eat plant matter, particularly roots and bulbs of plants. They often burrow into gardens alongside a desirable plant and munch on the plant from underground until it dies and then move on to another plant. If you have a vole problem, you’re more likely to see holes or trails in your garden areas, rather than your lawn.

What are Shrews?

Shrews are small mammals that resemble mice with a long pointy snout. However, shrews are not rodents but are more closely related to hedgehogs and moles. They have small bodies with ears and eyes smaller than a mouse but still visible (unlike the mole). They do not have over-sized feet as they often take advantage of mole tunnels and vole burrows that have already been created, instead of digging themselves. Shrews thrive in a number of habitats and will also happily join you inside your home if the opportunity arises. Shrews will eat seeds, nuts, plants, small animals, slugs, grubs, insects and earthworms.

Now that you know a bit more about moles, voles and shrews, you can more easily spot when you have one (or more) of these critters hanging around in your yard or garden. If you are having a problem with any of these animals, give Pee Dee Wildlife Control a call. We’ll verify which animal or animals you’re dealing with and help trap and remove them before they wreak havoc on your property.

by: Dennis Matherly