Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Rodentia / Muridae / Microtus / Species
Microtus agrestis - Field vole (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

APPEARANCE / MORPHOLOGY

LIFE STAGES / NATURAL DIET / PHYSIOLOGY

BEHAVIOUR

HABITAT & RANGE

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Short-tailed vole
  • Short-tailed field mouse
  • Campagnol agreste (French)
  • Erdmaus (German)

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] augustifrons; [Genus] arcturus; [Genus] argyropoli; [Genus] argyropoli; [Genus] argyropuloi; [Genus] armoricanus; [Genus] bailloni; [Genus] campestris; [Genus] britannicus; [Genus] carinthiacus; [Genus] enez-groezi; [Genus] astiae; [Genus] exsul; [Genus] fiona; [Genus] gregarius; [Genus] hirta; [Genus] insularis; [Genus] intermedia; [Genus] latifrons; [Genus] levenedii; [Genus] luch; [Genus] macgillivrayi; [Genus] mial; [Genus] mongol; [Genus] neglectus; [Genus] nigra; [Genus] nigricans; [Genus] ognevi; [Genus] orioecus; [Genus] pannonicus; [Genus] punctus; [Genus] rozianus; [Genus] rufa; [Genus] scaloni; [Genus] tridentinus; [Genus] wettsteini (B141).

Names for new-borns / juveniles

 
Names for males  
Names for females  

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General Appearance

Typical vole: small rodent with blunt muzzle, small eyes and small ears and short tail. Back grey-brown. (B142, D30).

Similar Species

  • Distinguished from mice by much blunter muzzle and shorter tail.
  • Distinguished from Clethrionomys glareolus - Bank vole by greyish-brown colour (for juveniles, by shorter tail and smaller ears), and from Arvicola terrestris - Water vole juveniles by smaller size particularly shorter hind feet) and shorter tail.
  • Distinguished from Microtus arvalis - Common vole by shape of second upper molar (extra lobe in Microtus agrestis), also hair longer and darker (B144).

(B142, D30).

Sexual Dimorphism --

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

Husbandry references:
B142, B156.12.w12, B169.20.w20

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Voles (Rodents)

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Voles (Rodents)

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Husbandry Information

Notes

  • Adapt well to captivity - have been kept in laboratory conditions. Easy to keep and breed. (B142)
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Length
  • Head-body length: 90-135mm (D30); 4-5.2in./10-13cm (B144).
  • Males mean 121mm, females mean 115mm (B142).
Height --
Adult weight General 0.91.9oz./25-55g (B144).
Male Mean 39.7g (B142).
Female Mean 30.9g (B142).
New-born weight 2g (B142); 0.1oz/3g (B144).
Growth rate 20.8g by September/October (B142).

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Head

General --

Skull: Condylobasilar length males 26.1mm, females 25.2mm (B142)

Nose: Blunt muzzle (D30)

Ears: small (D30)

Dentition (Teeth) Molars open-rooted. Fifth loop of enamel on second upper molar (unlike Clethrionomys glareolus - Bank vole) (B142).
Eyes Small (D30).

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Legs and Tracks

Hind feet males mean 17.4mm, females mean 17.0mm (B142).

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Tail

About 30% of head-body length. Single colour (D30);1.3-1.8in./3.2-4.5cm (B144).

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female
  • Dorsal: Grey-brown (varying to yellowish-brown)
  • Ventral: paler grey (sometimes buff-tinged)

(B142)

Variations (If present)
  • Summer coat sparser than winter coat and has coarser guard hairs
  • Occasionally piebald and pale forms, rarely albinos, very rarely melanistic.

(B142)

Moult
  • Spring moult February, autumn moult completed by October/November.
  • Series of moults by juveniles during the summer.

(B142)

New-born / Juvenile Juvenile darker grey (B142).

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Neonate (New-born) Characteristics

--

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

--

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season
  • Usually March/April to September/October. Sometimes winter breeding (B142).
Oestrus / Ovulation
  • Induced ovulation: tactile, auditory and visual stimulation may be involved rather than mating (B142).
Gestation / Pregnancy
Parturition / Birth --
Neonatal development --
Litter size
  • 4-6 (laboratory), 2-7 (wild) (B142);1-10 average 4-7 (B144).
Time between Litters / Litters per year
  • A "succession of litters" is produced during breeding season (B142).
Lactation / Milk Production
  • 14-28 days (B142).
Sexual Maturity
  • Females about 6 weeks old (photoperiod and social factors affect this, e.g. earlier if reared in presence of mature males or exposed to their bedding) (B142).
Longevity
  • 18 months in wild, up to 3.25 years in captivity (B144).

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Natural Diet

Herbivorous.
  • Grasses: green leaves, stems
  • Herbs
  • Bark

(B142, B147)

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces Oval cross-section (B142).
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 50, FNa = 50. Sex chromosomes unusually large (B142).
Other --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

  • Prefer familiar food items.
  • Prefer succulent species in spring and summer

(B142)

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Parental Behaviour

--

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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

Intra-specific
  • Breeding females: static; home ranges overlap.
  • Males: static; home range do not overlap
  • Sub-adults: more nomadic. Dispersal seem most in mid summer, and of males more than females.
  • Breeding females may disperse.
  • Aggression seen between adult males in laboratory
  • Pregnant and lactating females show aggression (particularly nest defence) in laboratory
  • Juveniles not usually attacked
  • Single male becomes dominant in laboratory colonies
  • Territory males 0.1-0.2 acres/0.04-0.08 hectares, females half this (B144)

(B142)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

--

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Predation in Wild

  • Birds: heron, kestrel, buzzard, eagle, harriers, barn owl, tawny owl, long-eared owl, short-eared owl.
  • Mammals: fox, stoat, weasel, polecat, pine-marten, wildcat, badger.

(B142, B144)

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Activity Patterns

Use well-formed runways in dense grass, at ground level (B142)
Circadian
  • Summer mainly nocturnal.
  • Winter more diurnal.
  • Juveniles more nocturnal than adults.
  • Peak activity dawn and dusk.
  • 2 to 2.5 hour cycle of activity (rest and foraging)
  • Active all year: do not hibernate

(B142, B147)

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

Moist areas with good grass cover.
  • Rough ungrazed grassland, including young forestry plantations, woodlands, marshes, peat bogs, wet meadows, river banks.
  • Marginal habitats (found at low densities): woodlands, hedgerows, blanket bog, dunes, scree, moorland.

(B142, B143, B144)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

  • Underground burrow system.
  • Nest spherical.

(B143)

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Palearctic: Britain and western European mainland eastwards to east-central Siberia (River Lena, Lake Baikal).
  • Within Europe: not found southern Europe, the lowlands of central and most of south-eastern Europe and northernmost Russia.
  • In Britain: widespread on mainland. Found up to and past 1,300m in Cairngorms. Not found on Isle of Man, Lundy, Isles of Scilly or Channel Islands. Also absent from Lewis, Barra, South Rona, Raasay, Rhum, Colonsay, Pabay, Soay, Orkney, Shetland (B142, D30).
  • Not found on Ireland.

(B51, B142, B143, B147)

Occasional and Accidental --
Introduced

--.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Seven subspecies recognised in Europe: size, coat colour and dental variations (B142)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)
  • Common within range; may be locally rare in marginal areas of western and central Europe (B142, B144)

  • In Britain: native, locally common. Pre-breeding population estimate of about 75,000,000, including 17,500,000 in England, 41,000,000 in Scotland, 16,500,000 in Wales. Population estimate was "based on a very limited amount of information for the species" and abundance relative to other small mammal species although additional knowledge "may not necessarily have made a substantial difference to the estimate". (B221)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats
  • Loss of rough grassland habitat (B221)
Captive Populations  
Trade  

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