Mole Tunnels vs. Vole Tunnels


Gardening and lawn care can be satisfying activities, but dealing with pesky rodents like moles and voles can be frustrating. These critters can dig complex tunnel systems in your yard and garden, causing damage to your plants and lawn. Knowing how to identify whether the tunnels are made by moles or voles is the first step in controlling them. In this article, we will explore the key differences between mole tunnels and vole tunnels and provide effective methods for identifying and controlling these rodents. So, let’s get started and take back control of your yard!

Overview of Moles and Voles

Moles and voles are often mistaken for each other, but they are different creatures with different behaviors and tunneling habits. Here is a brief overview of the differences between moles and voles:

| | Moles | Voles |
| Diet | Insectivores, eat worms, grubs, and insects | Herbivores, eat grasses, roots, bulbs, and tubers |
| Size | 6-8 inches long, with pointed noses and large front claws | 4-6 inches long, with rounded noses and smaller front claws |
| Tunnels | Dig tunnels just below the soil surface, creating raised ridges in lawns and gardens | Dig shallow tunnels in the turfgrass layer, creating small round holes in the soil |
| Behavior | Often solitary, territorial, and active year-round | Live in burrow systems with multiple individuals, may be active year-round or seasonally |

Moles are well-known for their tunneling habits, which can create unsightly mounds of soil, called “mole hills,” in lawns and gardens. They primarily eat worms, grubs, and insects, which they locate by digging shallow tunnels just below the soil surface. These tunnels create raised ridges in the lawn, which can be a telltale sign of mole activity. However, it’s important to note that not all raised ridges are caused by moles, so it’s important to properly identify mole tunnels before attempting any control measures.

Voles, on the other hand, are primarily herbivores and eat a variety of grasses, roots, bulbs, and tubers. They are smaller than moles and tunnel closer to the soil surface, which can create small round holes in the soil. Voles tend to live in burrow systems with multiple individuals, and their behavior may be more active seasonally rather than year-round.

It’s important to properly identify the type of rodent causing problems in your lawn or garden before attempting any control measures. Understanding the differences between moles and voles can help you choose the most effective control strategy for your situation.

Identifying Mole Tunnels

Identifying Mole Tunnels
When it comes to dealing with mole problems, it’s important to be able to identify the signs of their presence. Moles create an intricate tunnel system below the surface, making it difficult to spot them above ground. However, there are certain characteristics that can help distinguish mole tunnels from other types of tunneling animals, such as voles or gophers. Let’s take a closer look at how to identify mole tunnels. For tips on filling in mole hills caused by these pesky critters, check out our article on filling in mole hills. For information on how mole tunnels can even benefit soil health, read our article Mole Tunnels and Soil Health.


When identifying and controlling moles and voles, it is important to know the differences in the appearance of their tunnels. Here are the characteristics of each type of tunnel:

Mole Tunnels:

  • Mole tunnels are usually deeper in the ground, often 6 to 24 inches deep, and are less visible than vole tunnels.
  • The tunnels are usually wider than vole tunnels, around 2 inches in diameter.
  • Mole tunnels are often straight, and they can be found in various directions, but not in circular patterns.
  • One of the most prominent differences is that mole tunnels usually have mounds of soil around the entrance, which are called mole hills. They can be found in areas with loose soil or in raised garden beds.

It is important to note that moles do not eat plants, unlike voles, so their tunnels are not necessarily a sign of damage to your garden. If you have mole tunnels but no mole hills, it is likely that they are just passing through.

To learn more about mole hills, check out our article on moles hills.


When trying to identify mole tunnels, it’s important to pay attention to their location. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Vegetation: Moles tend to prefer areas with dense vegetation, as it provides cover and a plentiful supply of earthworms, their preferred food source.
  • Slope: Mole tunnels are more likely to appear on slopes, as this allows for easier digging and water drainage.
  • Nearby water sources: Since mole’s tunnels can often be damaged by flooding, moles will typically avoid areas with standing water or near water sources.
  • Season: Mole activity is typically highest in the spring and fall when soil is moist and temperatures are mild.
  • Soil type: Moles prefer loamy or sandy soils, which are easier to dig.

Vole tunnels, on the other hand, are typically found in areas with dense vegetation, especially where grasses and weeds are left to grow tall. They are more likely to be found in areas close to shrubs, trees or other structures that provide cover. Unlike mole tunnels, which are often in a straight line, vole tunnels will typically be more meandering and less uniform in shape.

By taking note of the location of tunnels and other factors, it can be easier to determine whether you are dealing with a mole or vole infestation, and choose the most effective control methods.


When it comes to identifying whether you have a mole or vole infestation, it’s important to pay attention to the behavior of the animals. Here are a few key things to look out for:


  • Burrowing: Moles are known for creating extensive burrow systems underground, where they spend most of their time. They construct both feeding tunnels (which are used to trap and eat insects and worms) and travel tunnels (which allow them to move quickly from one area to another).
  • Mound-building: As they dig, moles create mounds of soil above ground which can be a telltale sign of their presence. These “molehills” are usually symmetrical and have a circular shape.
  • Activity: Moles tend to be most active during the early morning or late afternoon, and they can cover a lot of ground quickly as they burrow through the soil in search of food.
  • Solitary: Moles are solitary creatures and typically only interact during mating season.


  • Tunneling: Voles also create tunnels, but they tend to be closer to the surface (usually just a few inches deep). They construct these tunnels to find food, which typically consists of plant roots and bulbs.
  • Chewing: One of the more destructive behaviors of voles is their tendency to chew on the bark of trees and shrubs. This can cause significant damage to your landscaping.
  • Activity: Voles are most active during the early morning or evening hours, and you may see them darting back and forth between tunnel entrances.
  • Social: Unlike moles, voles live in communities and are very social creatures.

By paying attention to these key behaviors, you can get a better sense of whether you’re dealing with moles or voles, and choose the appropriate control methods to address the problem.

Identifying Vole Tunnels

Identifying Vole Tunnels
When it comes to identifying vole tunnels, it can be quite perplexing if you’re not familiar with the patterns and behavior of these small rodents. However, with a keen eye and some basic knowledge, you can learn how to spot these tunnels and distinguish them from mole tunnels. Voles may seem harmless at first, but they can cause damage to your lawn and garden if left unchecked, so it’s important to know what to look for. Let’s take a closer look at how to identify vole tunnels.


Appearance is one of the key differences between mole tunnels and vole tunnels. Let’s take a closer look at each.


Moles are small, furry creatures with pointed snouts and large, spade-like front paws designed for digging. Their tunnels are typically wider than those of voles, measuring around 2-3 inches in diameter. Moles create two types of tunnels: surface runways, which are usually visible on the ground or just below the surface, and deeper tunnels, which are used for nesting and feeding. These deeper tunnels can be as deep as 3 feet beneath the surface of the ground.

To distinguish mole tunnels from other tunneling pests, look for raised ridges of soil, which are created when moles dig tunnels just below the surface. The ridges are usually about 3 inches wide, and the soil is pushed up as the mole moves through the tunnel.


Voles are small, mouse-like rodents with short tails and rounded snouts. Their tunnels are typically narrower than those of moles, only about 1-2 inches in diameter. Unlike moles, voles do not dig deeper tunnels but create shallow runways in the grass or soil.

Vole tunnels can be identified by their entrance holes, which are usually located near plant roots or under brush piles. These entrance holes are around 1.5 inches in diameter, and there may be many of them in a small area. You can also spot vole tunnels by looking for areas of dead, flattened grass or soil, caused by the voles feeding on the roots of plants.

Knowing the appearance of mole and vole tunnels can help you to determine which pest you are dealing with, and therefore which control methods will be most effective.

Moles Voles
Physical Appearance Small, furry creatures with pointed snouts and large, spade-like front paws designed for digging. Small, mouse-like rodents with short tails and rounded snouts.
Tunnel Diameter Average width of 2-3 inches. Average width of 1-2 inches.
Tunnel Depth Can be as deep as 3 feet beneath the surface of the ground. Shallow runways in the grass or soil.
Entrance Holes None. Average diameter of 1.5 inches, usually located near plant roots or under brush piles.
Visible Signs Raised ridges of soil, usually about 3 inches wide. Areas of dead, flattened grass or soil, caused by the voles feeding on the roots of plants.


When it comes to identifying the location of mole and vole tunnels, there are some important factors to consider. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Location of Mole Tunnels:

  • Moles create tunnels in a relatively straight line, often following the line of a landscape feature like a fence line or a building foundation.
  • They are typically found in areas with moist soil, as this makes it easier for moles to dig their tunnels.
  • Moles are also known to create tunnels in shaded areas, as they are sensitive to light and prefer cooler temperatures.
  • Look for raised ridges in your lawn or garden, which can indicate the presence of mole tunnels just below the surface.

Location of Vole Tunnels:

  • Unlike moles, voles create more complex tunnel systems that often include multiple entrances and exits.
  • They are found in a variety of locations, including lawns, gardens, and forest edges.
  • Voles are active above ground and leave evidence of their presence in the form of small holes in the ground and damaged plant roots.
  • Look for areas with a lot of vegetation, as voles prefer to tunnel under cover.

By understanding the typical locations where moles and voles create their tunnels, you can better identify whether you are dealing with a mole or vole problem. This knowledge will also be useful when it comes to developing a plan for controlling these pests.


When it comes to identifying mole tunnels and vole tunnels, behavior is another key factor to consider. Here are the behaviors that can help you differentiate between these two types of tunnels:

Mole tunnel behavior:

  • Moles are solitary creatures that spend most of their time underground. This means that they won’t leave visible tracks or footprints above ground like voles.
  • Moles are very active and can create tunnels and mounds quickly. They can move up to 18 feet per hour, which means they can cause extensive damage to your lawn and garden if left unchecked.
  • Moles create tunnels that run deeper in the ground and can be found at depths of up to 10 inches. They use these underground tunnels to search for food, such as earthworms and grubs.
  • Moles are active year-round, so you may see new mole tunnels and mounds in your lawn or garden at any time of the year.

Vole tunnel behavior:

  • Unlike moles, voles are not solitary creatures. They live in groups and are active both above and below ground.
  • Voles create smaller tunnels than moles that are closer to the surface, usually about 2 inches deep. These tunnels may be visible in your lawn, garden, or other vegetation areas.
  • Voles are herbivores and feed on grasses, plants, and bulbs. They may gnaw on the bark of trees and shrubs, causing damage or killing plants.
  • Voles are also active year-round, but they may be more active during the winter months when they seek out shelter and food. They may create more tunnels and activity during the colder months, making it easier to detect their presence.

By observing the behavior of the animals that create these tunnels, you can determine whether you are dealing with moles or voles. This knowledge can help you decide on the best methods for controlling these pests and protecting your lawn and garden.

Controlling Moles and Voles

As frustrating as it can be to deal with unwanted pests in your lawn or garden, there are a variety of options available for controlling mole and vole tunnels. By taking the right steps, you can prevent damage to your plants and lawn while also avoiding harm to the animals themselves. Here are some effective methods for controlling these little critters:

Prevention Methods

When it comes to preventing moles and voles from creating tunnels in your yard, there are several effective methods you can try. Here are some prevention methods you can implement:

  • Remove their food sources: Removing grubs, insects, and other critters from your lawn can help eliminate their source of food, which can discourage moles and voles from sticking around. You can use a natural insecticide or hire a professional to treat your lawn.
  • Maintain a healthy lawn: Mowing your lawn regularly, watering it deeply and infrequently, and fertilizing it regularly can help keep your lawn healthy and less attractive to moles and voles.
  • Install physical barriers: Some physical barriers such as mesh wire, fencing, or metal barriers can be installed around the edges of your yard to keep moles and voles from getting in.
  • Keep your yard clutter-free: Get rid of any debris or clutter around your yard, as moles and voles may use them as hiding places.
  • Use repellents: You can try using natural repellents containing garlic, castor oil, or other substances that are unpleasant to moles and voles. The effectiveness of these methods can vary, so be sure to read product reviews before purchasing.

By implementing these prevention methods consistently, you can help keep your yard and garden mole and vole-free. Remember that it’s important to take action as soon as you notice signs of mole or vole activity, as they can quickly reproduce and escalate the problem.

Trapping Methods

Trapping Methods:

Trapping is one of the most effective and humane ways to get rid of moles and voles. Here’s what you need to know about different types of traps and how to use them:

  • Live traps: Live traps are a good option if you want to catch moles or voles without harming them. Place the trap in an active tunnel and be sure to check it frequently. Once you catch the animal, release it in a suitable habitat far away from your property.
  • Burrow traps: These types of traps are specifically designed to capture moles. They are placed in the mole’s existing tunnel and must be set carefully. A shovel is typically used to create an opening in the tunnel where the trap can be placed. Once the mole enters the trap, it will be killed quickly and humanely.
  • Funnel traps: Funnel traps are similar to burrow traps, but they are designed to catch voles. They can be set in active tunnels or near runways where voles are known to travel. They work by using a one-way design that allows the vole to enter the trap but not exit.
  • Scissor traps: Scissor traps are also designed specifically for moles. They are typically placed in the mole’s main tunnel and work by using scissor-like blades to kill the mole instantly once it passes through the trap.

Before setting any traps, it’s important to note that different traps require different techniques for proper placement and use. Make sure to carefully read the instructions that come with your traps before attempting to use them. Also, be sure to wear gloves when handling traps to prevent your scent from being transferred to them, which can make them less effective.

Baiting Methods

To effectively control both moles and voles, baiting methods can be utilized as an alternative to trapping. Baiting involves placing a food source that is toxic to the rodents in an area where they are active. There are two main types of bait that can be used for this purpose: poison bait and non-toxic bait.

Poison bait: This type of bait contains a toxic substance that will kill the rodents when they consume it. The most commonly used poison bait in controlling moles and voles is zinc phosphide. When ingested, this substance will release phosphine gas in the rodent’s stomach, causing them to die from asphyxiation.

However, it is important to note that poison bait can also be harmful to other animals such as pets, birds, and beneficial wildlife. It is crucial to use caution when placing poison bait and to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.

Non-toxic bait: This type of bait does not contain any toxic substances and is generally used as a deterrent to repel rodents rather than kill them. Some examples of non-toxic bait include castor oil and essential oils such as peppermint and clove.

Non-toxic bait can be a natural and safe option for controlling moles and voles without harming other animals. However, it may not be as effective as poison bait in eliminating the rodents.

Here is a table summarizing the pros and cons of each baiting method:

Baiting method Pros Cons
Poison bait -Effective in killing rodents

-Easy to use
-Harmful to other animals

-May require multiple applications
Non-toxic bait -Safe for other animals

-Natural option
-Less effective in eliminating rodents

-May require frequent reapplication

Ultimately, the choice between poison bait and non-toxic bait depends on individual preferences and the specific circumstances of the rodent infestation. It is always recommended to consult with a professional pest control service to determine the best course of action.


In conclusion, identifying and controlling mole and vole tunnels can be a challenging task, but with the right techniques, it can be accomplished. It’s important to understand the differences between these two creatures as they require different methods for control.

Prevention methods can be highly effective for both moles and voles. Keeping your yard free of debris and maintaining a well-manicured lawn can discourage these animals from taking up residence. Additionally, installing fences around plants or gardens and using repellents can help deter them from invading in the first place.

Trapping methods are often used for both moles and voles, ideally by setting the traps on active tunnels. These traps can then be checked daily and the captured animals can be removed from the area. Live trapping is also an option for both, although it’s important to know how to properly release the animals into a new location.

Baiting methods are more commonly used for moles since they have a more carnivorous diet. This involves placing poison bait in active tunnels or runways. However, this should only be done by professionals who are trained in applying the bait safely and effectively.

Ultimately, the key to successfully controlling moles and voles is to recognize the signs of their presence and take action as soon as possible. Whether that means implementing prevention methods or calling in a professional to assist with trapping or baiting, addressing the issue early on can prevent further damage to your lawn or garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

What damage can Moles and Voles cause?

Both Moles and Voles can cause extensive damage to lawns and gardens, as well as damage to plant roots and irrigation systems.

Do Moles and Voles carry diseases?

No, Moles and Voles do not carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Can I identify Moles by their above-ground burrows?

No, Moles primarily burrow underground and rarely create visible above-ground burrows.

Can Voles climb trees or walls?

No, Voles are not good climbers and prefer to burrow underground or hide in vegetation.

Do Moles and Voles eat insects?

While Moles primarily eat insects, Voles do not typically feed on insects and instead feed on plant materials.

What time of day are Moles and Voles most active?

Moles are active throughout the day and night, while Voles are most active during dawn and dusk.

Why are Moles and Voles attracted to my yard?

Moles and Voles are attracted to yards with loose, moist soil and plenty of vegetation to feed on.

Can I use poison to control Moles and Voles?

It is not recommended to use poison to control Moles and Voles, as it can be harmful to other wildlife and pets that may come into contact with it.

Do Moles and Voles hibernate?

No, Moles and Voles do not hibernate, but they may become less active during the winter months.

How long does it take to control a Mole or Vole problem?

The length of time it takes to control a Mole or Vole problem depends on the severity of the infestation and the control methods used. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to fully eliminate the problem.