Mammals in the Forest - Field Vole - The Heart of England Forest

Living in the long grass in the younger plantations in the Forest, you need to be lucky to spot this little mammal, but there are signs to look out for.

Close up of a field vole

  • Scientific Name: Microtus agrestis
  • Description: Greyish brown fur with an off-white underside. More rounded nose than a mouse and a shorter tail than the bank vole
  • Size:  9 – 11.5 cm
  • Preferred habitats: Deciduous and mixed woodland as well as urban gardens and heathland
  • Diet: Grasses
  • Lifespan: 1 year on average

Breeding

Field voles can breed all year round. Females can produce up to seven litters a year, with usually around five young

Where do they live in the Forest?

Anywhere where there is long grass in the younger plantations. Hayden Way Wood and Dorothy’s Wood are good areas for field voles.

Natural predators

Foxes, stoats, weasels, and some birds of prey. Field voles play a vital part in the food chain for these predators.

Spotting tips

Field voles are tricky to see, but look for clues like their network of tunnels in the long grass.

Not to be confused with

The bank vole. These small grey-ish brown mammals can be confused with bank voles due to their appearance, however the tail is the best way to tell which is which.

Field voles have tails only a third of the length of their whole bodies, whereas bank voles’ tails are half the length of their bodies.

Conservation Status

Field voles are one of the most common small UK mammals. In the UK the population of the field vole is roughly 75,000,000.

How you can help

Creating a wild area in your garden and allowing grasses to grow tall provides more cover for field voles and other small mammals.

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