This topic contains 16 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  charles 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Has anyone found a way to manage voles? Anyone tried Russian vole snakes? Or any other non-poisonous snakes? Many thanks.




    I found they love this. Difficult to keep them out of beds and once there, they are so damaging. I put a mousetrap under some parsnip leaves, it needs to be hidden as theyt don’t come out in the open.

    As for snakes, well that sounds interesting!


    Pete Budd

    I have had a lot of success catching mice in a bucket trap (google it). You can lure them in with peanut butter and if the bucket is empty, (no water), you can dispose of them humanely. Don`t know if it works with voles though.

    Merry Xmas



    I have a lot of voles on my plot.  They have been quite a problem this year nibbling the skins of squash, and eating beetroot and chard roots during late autumn.  I have been using mypex and silage sheet to enlarge the plat, which they do seem to enjoy to living under.  I’ve use traps with peanut butter or nutella but a lot of voles remain.

    Perhaps encouraging owls with suitable nest boxes could be a way of reducing the numbers?

    The barn owl trust are an interesting group and I think owls like to eat voles.





    Hi, I have been told by a pest control officer that it is illegal to kill field voles as they form an important part of the natural foodchain. I also understand and know from experience what an annyoing little pest they are, I have read that they dislike the smell of quinnine and castor oil. Quinnine can be found in tonic water and I have made investigations at my local chemist to find that castor oil can be ordered. Apparently a small amount of these products soaked onto cotton wool and placed in the tunnels of said pest will deter them, emphasis on deter. I have not tried this method yet but would be very interested to hear results from anyone who does. Attracting owls also seems sensible and placing upright wooden stakes at intervals in an area can help the owls to perch and observe. Good luck. 



    Cats are good predators.



    Since they like to remain concealed perhaps a concerted effort to reduce gound cover would help?

    I have a lot of field mice at the moment – you would all have laughed to see my reaction when one ran out of a bag of rubbish I was transporting back from the allotment – thank goodness it did so before I was in the car taking it to the dump!



    Voles – bain of my garden! I think one of the few drawbacks of no dig is that it leaves their tunnels untouched, and the voles very comfortable. A mousetrap set next to the entrance hole with a clay flowerpot upturned over it is my most successful method, but snakes and bucket traps sound worth investigating!



    Are voles really that much of a problem? One has a nest at the bottom of one of my compost boxes; I haven’t moved the bottom 8″ or so in two years. I’m pretty certain there is a nest in the bottom of my leaf mould box so I won’t remove all of the contents when it’s ready.

    Fellow plotholders kill voles, moles and field mice. One even kills crows. Is there something wrong with me only wanting to kill the rat that I’ve seen on another plot? I will gladly take rabbits, ducks and woodpigeons for the table but, not just for the sake of it.



    Outdoors, certainly in a rural area, I think you just have to live with them and consider other pests likely do more damage in the long run. They are probably our commonest British mammal and each female raises about 20 plus annually with a long breeding season. That means I probably have several hundred at any given time in one acre. Voles are key to UK raptor survival and even if only tawny owls frequent your area, a few tall fence stakes which cost a couple of quid, strategically placed near raised beds will help – if there are no other tree perches nearby .

    Here I see buzzards etc perching above the entrances to vole runs under our plastic mulch. Indeed from that we habituated the buzzard to come for a scrap of meat every afternoon! Owl boxes and/or tree cover planting are ideal but maybe not realistic.

    I cover all empty raised beds in winter as we are in an area of very high rainfall. Agree with previous posters, voles love no-dig and they love any kind of hiding cover – indeed a snow blanketed winter helps their population peak enormously. I tried non-grass paths between raised beds but the only difference that made was I could not see their habitual runs.

    We can only manage them and the more destructive field mice in the polytunnel with mousetraps and a metal quarter inch mesh perimeter barrier. Our PT is a zero tolerance zone for any rodents. but, even then, if open doorways are un-netted they will find their way in- to them it’s their local deli on their nightly shopping run. So a feral cat/cat would work well inside.

    Basically, I live with them, they are mainly grass eaters and that’s key. I temporarily protect the young heads of some of my “slow ” veg such as cabbages, kales until they get going etc as the leading shoot gets eaten off but again, this is probably mice. ( A mesh ” cup”again, milk bottle halves encourage grey moulded shoots- but I will try some kind of DIY chilli spray next year. ) Also ensure there is no mulch/membrane close to the trunk of fruit trees as they provide a hiding place for bark chewing. I left a wodge of cardboard down for a week in preparation for a new bed and lifted it yesterday to find a vole underneath and all it’s eaten grass channels.

    In my experience, here, mice, and of course slugs do more damage. So it’s a case of picking your battles. On balance they have brought in a whole range of wildlife to my plot and so make growing more interesting.



    Hey Charles,

    We are beginning to have a problem with them at the moment. Am at my wits end. We have 4 cats and they have always dealt with them. However, this year it appears to pose a challenge even for the cats. They are still bringing some back, but I do suspect not from our garden. Them useless kids!

    Have been battling with these critters for the past few weeks now and even had to plant the beans and outdoor cucumbers wrapped in chicken wire. The amount of work involved is exasperating and exhausting! They have also begun to nibble on the cabbages 🙁

    I have read all the info in the forum about dealing with them. I gather you´d suggest setting traps? These voles have spread to a huge area in our garden now, from the outdoor plots right through to the polytunnel. Discovered several holes and heaped pathways and I constantly have to stamp these pathways down. They have also uprooted basil plants, marigolds and other plantings.

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    Karen check this link which is in the forums.



    Hey Charles,

    Thanks. I did read that link. I should have written my post in that thread instead. I think the solution would possibly be to try to set traps.

    My only concern is… why would they eat baited traps with peanut butter and Nutella when they have fresh cabbages for example to feast on. At the same time, am afraid that one of the cats might accidentally activate the traps and injure themselves?

    I just saw today that one of our cats started to sit by a hole…

    Perhaps I should try Eliot Coleman´s method of a boxed trap? I tried flooding one of the holes today… but that´s a lot of water to cover such a large area 🙁

    Am also about to plant out autum/winter cabbages soon… it would be impossible to chicken wire all of them.



    Might try Wendp´s method with a mousetrap with a flowerpot over the hole.



    I have real problems with all small pests my purple sprouting were completely ring barked & some completely eaten peanut butter seems fairly a tractive to them.also with seeds I have deterred them & mice with fine ground pepper I think it plays havoc with their sense of smell but on a wet windy situation it is not the easiest to implement !!even putting it down the holes stops theme coming out but it needs constantly refreshing. Planting cat mint around or sprinkling leaves is supposed to deter them too .
    If any one can help with my latest big pest …pheasants trampling pecking dusting eating making holes in nets & never there when there’s a gun around !!

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