prairie vole

(Microtus ochrogaster)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

 

No Image Available

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable

Minnesota

Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need

Occurrence

 

Habitat

Prairies, fields, thickets, railroads. Dry areas.

Lifespan

Less than one year

 
Size

Head and body: 3½ to 5

Tail: 1 to 1¾

 

Identification

The head and body are 3½ to 5 long. The coloration does not change in the winter. The coat (pelage) is grayish-brown to dark brown with black-tipped and tawny-tipped hairs, giving it a grizzled appearance. The back is somewhat darker than the sides. The underside is yellowish. The legs and feet are yellowish brown.

The tail is 1 to 1¾ long and bicolored.

 
Sign  
 
Similar
Species

Meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) pelage does not have a grizzled appearance. The belly is not yellowish. The tail is longer, 12 5 to 23 5 long. Where the ranges overlap meadow vole will be in wetter areas.


Food

Diet consists mostly of grasses, tubers, roots, seeds, and when available, insects. In the winter they sometimes eat the bark of woody shrubs.

 
Life Cycle

Prairie voles are reproductively monogamous but not sexually monogamous. They form pair bonds that last a lifetime, but will mate with other voles if the opportunity arises. Breeding takes place year-round but mostly in the spring and fall. Two to four litters are produced each year. There are usually 3 or 4 offspring per litter though there may be as few as 2 or as many as 7. Gestation lasts 20 to 23 days. The offspring reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 weeks. Adults usually live less than one year but may live up to two years.

 
Behavior

Adults are active mostly during twilight.


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 6, 15, 29.

Prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster ochrogaster) is found in southeastern Minnesota.

Least meadow mouse (Microtus ochrogaster minor) is found in the remainder of the state except the northeast.


Comments

 


Taxonomy

Order:

Rodentia (rodents)

 

Suborder:

Myomorpha

 

No Rank:

Muroidea (typical muroids)

 

Family:

Cricetidae (New World rats and mice, voles, hamsters, and relatives)

 

Subfamily:

Arvicolinae (voles, lemmings, and muskrats)

 

Genus:

Microtus (meadow voles)

 

Subgenus:

Pedomys

 
Subordinate Taxa

Hayden vole (Microtus ochrogaster haydenii)

least meadow mouse (Microtus ochrogaster minor)

Louisiana vole (Microtus ochrogaster ludovicianus)

Ohio prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster ohioensis)

prairie meadow vole (Microtus ochrogaster austerus)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster ochrogaster)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster similis)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster taylori)

 
Synonyms

Arvicola austerus

Hypudaeus ochrogaster

Microtus ludovicianus

 
Common
Names

prairie vole


 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

pelage

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

       

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  The Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Mar 13, 2011

Photographed at the Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (13 March 2010).

 
     

 

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