Voles vs. Moles: What’s the Difference Between These Common Lawn Pests?

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated May 4, 2022
A common vole in a tunnel
Photo: AGAMI / Adobe Stock


  • Voles and moles are both pests that dig tunnels in your lawn.

  • Voles are vegetarians and look like mice.

  • Moles have long snouts and large paws.

  • Moles eat insects, like grubs.

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Your once picture-perfect lawn is now covered in tunnels, and you know you need to find out the cause to get rid of whatever pest is wreaking havoc on your yard. Voles and moles are both common lawn pests that dig tunnels, but they have a lot of differences.

Understanding the differences between voles versus moles is the key to dealing with whichever pest is destroying your landscape and preventing further problems in the future.

What Are Voles?

A vole staring at the camera
Photo: meerkat500 / Adobe Stock

You might mistake voles for field mice, as these small rodents look similar. These critters feed primarily on plant matter, so rather than digging up your lawn looking for grubs, voles might eat the bark off of trees or enjoy a feast in your garden. 

These pests will leave small tunnels along the surface of your yard. If you suspect a vole problem, you’ll want to deal with it quickly as they can have as many as 50 babies in a year.

What Are Moles?

A mole sitting on top of a molehill
Photo: mRGB / Adobe Stock

Moles are not rodents, and they are carnivorous. Instead of eating the root vegetables in your garden or tree bark, moles prefer grubs, earthworms, and other insects that live in soil. 

Moles will dig deep, extensive networks of tunnels beneath your lawn. Moles have a distinct appearance, as their eyes and ears are not visible, and they have long noses and large front paws for digging.

Voles vs. Moles

Despite their similar names and their underground tunnels, voles and moles have far more differences than similarities. When you notice tunnels in your lawn, it’s important to know these differences to properly take care of the pest problem and prevent these critters from returning to cause more damage.


Voles look similar to field mice. They are small, about 4 inches long, and only an ounce in weight, with visible, beady eyes and light brown or gray fur. They have small ears that might be hard to see amidst their fur and short tails.

Moles are very distinct in their appearance, and they are larger than voles at about 7 inches long and 4 ounces in weight. The first thing you might notice if you see a mole is its long, hairless nose. The next unique feature is the mole’s large paws, which it uses to dig deep underground. Moles have very small eyes that you likely cannot see on the animal’s face.


Voles and moles are very different in their dietary preferences, too. Voles eat a plant-based diet, including everything from root veggies, flower bulbs, twigs, tree bark, plant stems, and roots, which can destroy your pristine landscaping.

Moles are carnivores that are attracted to both beneficial and harmful soil insects. Moles will eat grubs and other insects out of soil, but they may also eat earthworms. Both voles and moles can cause a lot of damage in your yard as they make their way to the buffet of plants or bugs.

Signs of Pest

Vole tunnels on a yard
Photo: Vidady / Adobe Stock

Both voles and moles will tunnel through your yard, but their tunneling patterns are different. For voles, look for tunnels that are visible along the surface of the lawn that look like snakes or winding rivers. Another sign of voles is chewed up plants, tubular veggies, or bark on trees.

Moles dig their tunnels deeper underground but will leave small mounds of dirt near their tunnel entrances.

Cost for Pest Control

Voles reproduce rapidly, so removing them from your lawn can be costly. The cost to control a vole infestation is about $500 to $600. Even if you think you’ve been seeing regular ole mice running around your property, hire a local pest control service to determine what pests are in your yard. You’ll want to get rid of voles as quickly as possible before their population explodes.

The cost to remove moles professionally is about $400, or $80 per mole. A mole infestation usually consists of just a few of the animals. But the removal is just part of the cost you could be stuck with when dealing with moles. Their deep tunnels can cause lawn damage costing $2,000 or more.


The best way to prevent voles and moles from calling your yard home is to make it a less attractive place to live and dine. 

For voles, this means clearing out organic debris like twigs and leaves. Protect tree trunks with tree guards made of mesh or cloth, as voles cannot climb. You can place fences around your flower or vegetable gardens, as long as the fence is about 6 inches deep. Place some gravel in the planting hole before planting flower bulbs or apply fungicide to the bulbs to deter voles.

There are many ways to deter moles, including planting natural mole repellents like marigolds, daffodils, and alliums like garlic or shallots. Fences buried 2 to 3feet deep around the yard or gardens can also prevent moles from digging their tunnels on your property. 

You can also prevent moles from wrecking your lawn by getting rid of grub infestations and minimizing habitats, like piles of leaves or old tree trunks, that attract other harmful insects.

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