Mole vs. Vole: What Are the Differences?

Telling apart a mole from a vole may be tricky for someone not versed in these creatures, as both have a somewhat similar burrowing lifestyle and can be found in overlapping habitats. Despite some shared characteristics due to their underground living and the environments they inhabit, their differences become apparent upon a detailed look. By noting the variations in their physical features, behaviors, and ecological roles, one can discern the subtle distinctions that characterize these two small mammals.

The Main Difference between Mole and Vole

Mole vs. Vole: Comprehending Their Distinct Characteristics Pin

Mole vs. Vole: Key Takeaways

  • Moles and voles are distinct creatures with different diets; moles are insectivores, while voles are herbivores.
  • Physical differences, such as body shape and tail length, help in identifying moles from voles.
  • Understanding their behaviors and habitats is crucial for managing the impact on your lawn and garden.

Mole vs. Vole: Overview

Understanding Mole

Moles (Talpa europaea) are primarily carnivorous animals. Their diet consists of worms, grubs, and insects. Here’s what sets moles apart:

  • Size: Moles are generally larger than voles, measuring about 4 to 7 inches in length.
  • Appearance: They have velvety fur, tiny eyes, and large paddle-shaped front feet with prominent digging claws adapted for their underground lifestyle.
  • Diet: They’re insectivores, not interested in your plants but in the invertebrates in the soil.
  • Tunnels: Moles create extensive tunnel systems that can turn into raised ridges in the lawn, which can be a sign of their presence.

Understanding Vole

Voles, also known as meadow mice or field mice (Microtus spp.), have a plant-based diet. We can identify voles by these traits:

  • Size: Smaller than moles, voles are similar in size to house mice, around 3 to 5 inches long.
  • Appearance: Voles have stocky bodies, short hairy tails, small rounded ears, and small eyes.
  • Diet: These creatures are herbivores, feasting on roots, stems, and seeds; they might damage garden plants.
  • Signs: You may notice eaten vegetation, or small pathways in the grass or soil left by their foraging.

Mole vs. Vole: Physical Differences

When we look closely at moles and voles, their physical differences become apparent. Here’s a simple table to highlight some key distinctions between these two creatures.

Feature Mole Vole
Size 4 to 7 inches long 5 to 8 inches long
Body Shape Elongated with paddle-shaped feet Compact, heavy bodies with short tails
Fur Short, velvety, usually gray or brown Coarser fur, can be brown or gray
Eyes Small, can be concealed by fur Small, but more noticeable than moles
Ears Not visible externally Partially hidden, but present
Snout Long and pointed Blunter than a mole’s
Teeth Insectivore diet-related teeth Prominent orange teeth for gnawing
Feet Large digging claws Not specialized for digging
Tail Short Very short

Mole vs. Vole: Habitat and Behavioral Differences


  • Habitat: Subterranean environments, often in well-drained soils
  • Behavior: Solitary creatures, extensive tunnel diggers, insectivorous diet


  • Habitat: Both above and below ground, in grassy or wooded areas
  • Behavior: Social tendencies, create visible paths or runways, herbivorous diet

Mole vs. Vole Examples in Sentences

Example Sentences of Mole

  1. We noticed a network of raised tunnels in the garden, which is a classic sign of a mole foraging underground for insects.
  2. I was surprised to learn that a mole’s diet primarily consists of earthworms and grubs, not plant roots.
  3. Our yard’s molehill problem became apparent when small mounds of soil began appearing across the lawn, indicative of mole activity.
  4. Spotting the velvety fur and broad forefeet of a creature in the yard, we immediately knew it was a mole.
  5. The intricate burrowing patterns that disrupted our vegetable patch were the work of a mole, not a vole.

Example Sentences of Vole

  1. After finding several plants with gnawed stems and roots, we determined the culprit to be a vole.
  2. Unlike moles, voles can cause significant damage to gardens by eating the vegetation at and just below the surface.
  3. We caught a glimpse of a small, mouse-like animal with a short tail, quickly identifying it as a vole.
  4. Vole control often involves habitat modification, as these creatures prefer dense ground cover where they can easily hide.
  5. The presence of narrow runways across the surface of the yard pointed us towards a vole infestation rather than a mole.

Related Confused Words with Mole or Vole

Mole vs. Mouse

Moles and mice might occupy similar subterranean spaces but differ greatly. Moles have velvety fur, broad digging paws, and a distinct lack of visible ears. Mice are smaller with slender, elongated bodies, visible ears, and a long, thin tail.

Vole vs. Shrew

Shrews share a resemblance with voles, yet voles are typically heavier and stubbier, with short tails. Shrews have pointier snouts and are generally more aggressive insectivores.

Vole vs. Rat

Rats differ from voles in size and behavior. Rats are larger, with longer tails and notably intelligent behavior. Voles are smaller, resemble field mice, and stay closer to the ground surface.

Vole vs. Mouse

While voles and mice can be mistaken for one another, voles have stouthed bodies and shorter tails. Mice have slender bodies, and long tails, and are often found in a broader range of environments.

Learn more: Vole vs. Mouse

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I differentiate between a mole and a vole based on their appearance?

Moles showcase a more elongated head and snout, small eyes, and large, paddle-shaped front paws suited for digging. In contrast, voles have a robust mouse-like appearance, with small eyes, short tails, and less prominent digging claws than moles.

What do I need to know about the feeding habits of voles and moles?

Voles, which are herbivores, predominantly feed on the roots and stems of plants. In contrast, moles are insectivores and primarily consume earthworms, grubs, and other invertebrates found in the soil.

Can voles cause harm to pets or humans?

Generally, voles are not harmful to pets or humans, but they can be carriers of certain diseases and parasites that might transfer if there’s direct contact.

Do voles and moles share the same burrowing behavior, or are there differences?

Both animals burrow, but their behaviors differ. Moles create extensive underground tunnels in their search for food, leading to characteristic raised ridges and molehills. Voles create shallow, above-ground runways that lead to multiple burrow entrances.

Are there traits that can help me identify vole presence in my garden?

Lawn or garden damage is the telltale sign. Look for the crisscrossing patterns of runways just above the soil surface. Plus, damage to the base of trees, plants, and flower bulbs can indicate vole presence since they gnaw on these for food.