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Pest Guide - Rodents


The mouse is a small rodent that is found worldwide in almost every type of environment. Mice can live as long as 6 years in captivity. Most mice build nests in protected nooks, but some burrow into the ground. Many mice are nocturnal. They are timid, social, and territorial.

Mice range in size from 3 to 14 inches (8 to 35 cm) long (including a long tail). They weigh from 1/4 to 2 ounces. The coat color ranges from white to brown to gray. Most mice have a pointed snout with long whiskers, round ears, and thin tails. Many mice scurry along the ground, but some can hop or jump. The mouse's front teeth continue to grow throughout its life. They must gnaw on hard things to keep wearing the teeth down.


Voles are small, mouse-like rodents though they commonly are called meadow mice or field mice, they are distinguished from true mice by their short tails (about one inch long), stocky build and small eyes.

Voles can cause problems by damaging lawns, gardens, tree plantings and other plants.

Voles are small, weighing one to two ounces as adults. Their overall adult body length varies from three to five and one-half inches in the pine vole, to about four and one-half to seven inches in the meadow and prairie voles.

Voles are an important food source for many predators, including snakes, hawks, owls, coyotes, weasels, foxes, mink and badgers. Mortality rates for voles are very high. Life expectancy in the wild often does not exceed two months, and few ever live longer than 16 months. Not surprisingly, voles are very prolific animals.

The breeding season for all voles encompasses most of the year although peaks occur in spring and fall. Prairie and meadow voles normally have five to 10 litters per year and average three to five young per litter.

Probably the most extensive and costly damage caused by voles occurs to woody plants in winter. At times voles severely damage or kill many young trees and shrubs, including orchard, windbreak and landscape plantings. Voles will eat the green inner bark layer of trees and shrubs when preferred foods are unavailable.


Shrews are often mistaken as moles and mice. Each front foot of a shrew has 5 toes; mice have only 4 toes on each front foot. Mice also have larger eyes than a shrew and lack the elongated face/snout seen on a shrew. A shrew somewhat looks like a mole but there are differences which enable you to distinguish between the two. First, moles are usually larger than shrews. Next, moles have elongated front teeth. Another difference between moles and shrews is habitat location: moles tunnel and live underground, shrews thrive above ground.

Human bites are rare and are usually received only when handling a shrew. The shrew's poison is not lethal to humans.

The shrew has a very short lifespan and a high reproductive rate. Many adult females will become pregnant hours after giving birth and will eat anything they can over power. In order to maintain its metabolic needs, shrews will eat their approximate weight in food every day.

The vast majority of shrews go about their business, rarely encountering humans or causing harm to our belongings.