Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) - Wiki
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[Photo] Meadow Vole from US NPS. Source: U.S. National Park Service, Acadia National Park
The Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), sometimes called the Field Mouse or Meadow Mouse, is a small North American vole found across Canada, Alaska and the northern United States. Its range extends further south along theAtlantic coast. One subspecies, the Florida Salt Marsh Vole (M. p. dukecampbelli), is found in Florida, and is classified as endangered.
They have chunky cylindrical bodies with short legs and a short tail which is darker on top. Their fur varies from grey-brown to dark-brown with silver-grey underparts. Their short ears are barely visible through their fur. They are 16 cm long with a 5 cm tail and weigh about 50 g.
These animals are found in moist open areas. They make runways through the surface growth in warm weather and tunnel through the snow in winter. They feed on grasses, sedges and seeds, sometimes eating snails and insects. Predators include owls, snakes and various carnivorous mammals.
Female voles have three to six litters of four to seven young in a year. Most meadow voles live much less than a year, however, in captivity they can live as long as three years. The vole population in any given area tends to pass through a boom and bust cycle over a three- or four-year period.
They are active year-round, usually at night. They also dig underground burrows where they store food for the winter and females give birth to their young. Although these animals tend to live close together, they are aggressive towards each other. This is particularly evident in males during the breeding season. They can cause damage to fruit trees, garden plants and commercial grain crops.
Meadow voles can make excellent pets but need fresh grasses and seeds daily. They are partial to clover and dandelions, and love sunflower seeds.
Meadow voles have previously been used as bioindicators to monitor chemical leakage around Love Canal and radiation releases in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island Accident.
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