Belongs to: rodents

Compare with: water vole
bank vole

Field vole Microtus agrestis

Also known as: short-tailed vole


Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Probably the commonest mammal in Britain, found typically in ungrazed grassland but also any grassy area

Favourite food of a number of predators, including weasels, kestrels and barn owls

Widespread across Britain and Europe, but numbers can fluctuate widely from year to year

Recognition

Grey-brown above merging into pale grey below; body 9–12 cm with a short tail only about one third of body length

Spend much of their time in runs through dense grass or in burrows, so difficult to see; feeds on seeds, roots and leaves

Shorter tail and shaggier fur distinguishes from bank vole

Lifecycle

Use shredded grass and leaves to make nests c. 10cm across, at the base of grass tussocks or in burrows

5 or 6 litters a year of 4 or 5 young, between March/April and sometimes as late as December

Average life span around one year

  • Main photo

Photo © Peter Trimming