Did You Know: Meadow Mouse


May 25, 2015

The meadow mouse, Microtus pennsylvanicus, isn’t a mouse, it’s a vole. It’s also known as the field mouse and meadow vole. The common name is misleading because the morphology of the animal classifies it as a vole.

Meadow voles don’t live long. They often die within their first 30 days of life. On average, adults live for only about two months.

Voles are active year-round and eat every two to three hours. If they’re not eating, they’re sleeping.

Voles are destructive to agricultural crops and landscaping because they’ll eat just about every form of vegetation, including seeds, plants, roots and trees. They also feed on Endogon (fungi), insects, mollusks and, in high-density meadow vole populations, one another.

Meadow voles are ecologically important as a significant food source for predators. They disperse mycorrhizial fungi (responsible for helping plant roots absorb water and nutrients). They also contribute to the health of grassy vegetation with their feces. After a forest fire or similar catastrophe, they speed succession and habitat restoration with their activities.

You can reach Kate and Jeff McGovern at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com.

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