meadow vole

(Microtus pennsylvanicus)

Conservation Status
meadow vole
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Meadow vole is the largest vole found in Minnesota and the most widely distributed mole in North America.

It weighs between 1 and 2½ ounces. The length of the head and body together is 3½ to 5. The total length, including the tail, is 5 to 7¾. The body is 2 to 3 times as long as the tail.

The ears are small, inconspicuous, and hidden by the fur.

The coat (pelage) is long and soft. It is dark brown on the back, a little lighter on the sides, and silvery on the belly. It is darker on young individuals, lighter on older individuals.

The tail is 15 16 to 2½ long and bicolored. It is 2 to 3 times longer than the hind foot.




Total Length: 5 to 7¾

Head and body: 3½ to 5

Tail: 15 16 to 2½






Similar Species


Prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) pelage has a grizzled appearance. The belly is yellowish. The tail is shorter, 1 to 1¾long. Where the ranges overlap prairie vole will be in drier areas.


Meadows, fields, grassy marshes, grassy woodlands. Moist places.




Adults are active all times of day.




Less than one year


Life Cycle


Breeding takes place between April and December. Two to four litters are produced each year. There are usually 4 to 6 offspring per litter though there may be as few as 1 or as many as 11. Gestation lasts 20 to 23 days. Due to high nestling and juvenile mortality, an average of only 2.6 offspring are successfully weaned. The offspring reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 weeks. Adults usually live less than one year but may live up to two years.




Diet consists mostly of grasses, sedges, and herbs, but also includes seeds, grains, and when available, tubers, bulbs, and fruits. In the winter they sometimes eat the bark and roots of woody shrubs and trees.


Distribution Map



4, 7, 29, 30, 76.

Drummond vole (M. p. drummondii) is found only in the northeast corner of the state.

Pennsylvania meadow mouse (Microtus pennsylvanicus pennsylvanicus) occurs throughout all of the state.




Very common

  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placental mammals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires (primates, rodents, and allies)  
  Grandorder Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Rodentiia (rodents)  
  Suborder Myomorpha (mice, rats, and hamsters)  
  Superfamily Muroidea (muroids)  


Cricetidae (hamsters, voles, lemmings, and allies)  


Arvicolinae (voles, lemmings, and muskrats)  
  Tribe Microtini (microtine voles)  


Microtus (meadow voles)  
  Subgenus Mynomes  

The genus Microtus was formerly included with Arvicola in the broadly defined tribe Arvicolini based on morphological similarity. Recent molecular genetic analysis showed that the two genera are not “sister taxa.” In 2006, Microtus was moved to the new tribe Microtini that now contains seven other genera, all with rootless, ever growing molars and crown cement.


Subordinate Taxa


Acadian meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus acadicus)

arctic meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus arcticus)

bean meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus wahema)

black meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus nigrans)

Block Island meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus provectus)

Chihuahua meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus chihuahuensis)

Pennsylvania meadow mouse (Microtus pennsylvanicus pennsylvanicus)

Hudsonian meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus fontigenus)

large Labrador meadow mouse (Microtus pennsylvanicus enixus)

little Labrador meadow mouse (Microtus pennsylvanicus labradorius)

Magdalena Island meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus magdalenensis)

meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus copelandi)

Newfoundland Island meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus terraenovae)

Penobscot meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus shattucki)


In 2019, Drummond vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus drummondii), which also occurs in Minnesota, was elevated to species status and is now western meadow vole (Microtus drummondii). Several other former Microtus pennsylvanicus subspecies were subsumed within Microtus drummondii.




Microtus nesophilus


Common Names


meadow vole










The coat of a mammal, consisting of fur, wool, or hair, and including a soft undercoat and stiff guard hairs.

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    meadow vole   meadow vole  
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Microtus pennsylvanicus (Meadow Vole)
Allen Chartier
  Microtus pennsylvanicus (Meadow Vole)  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Meadow Vole (Cricetidae: Microtus pennsylvanicus)
Carl Barrentine

Published on Feb 24, 2013

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (23 February 2013).

  Meadow vole at the "Good" field, Bryn Athyn College campus
Eugene Potapov

Published on Apr 5, 2013

The meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) at the "Good" field, Bryn Athyn College campus was busy marking the camera in a clipped grassy pathway (run).

  Meadow vole running in a panic (HD)
Bart B. Van Bockstaele

Published on Jul 23, 2012

A meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) climbed in a plant and started gnawing the stem. When the stem breaks and falls down, the vole runs in a panic and doesn't return. Quite hilarious, and an indication for limited intelligence. This is one meadow vole that certainly won't be doing calculus any time soon.

  Jack Hubley's Mightiest Mammal -- The Meadow Vole

Uploaded on Apr 2, 2010

The Susquehanna Valley's mightiest mammal may not be the big, bad creature you might think




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  Viner 66

Location: St. Louis County, Minnesota

So many trapped in my garage, it feels like an infestation.






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