How to Tell the Difference Between Moles, Voles, and Gophers

One part of homeownership that can be a challenge is pest control. While there are no shortage of experts out there to help you, difficulties arise in not only recognizing when you’re having a pest problem but also figuring out what kind of pest it is. A variety of wildlife can interrupt the enjoyment of your home or garden. From raccoons in your attic to gophers in your yard. While many people don’t think about household pests until they're getting ready to sell their home, or vegetables from the garden start to go missing. Its important as a homeowner to be able to identify the problem and understand when it’s time to call in reinforcements.


When you see damage to your lawn, its pretty easy to conclude you have some type of pest. The question is what kind. Some of the most common pests in landscaped areas are moles, gophers, and voles. Each pest (and the damage they cause) is different and likewise so is the method of removal. By knowing what you’re dealing with you can be far more informed when hiring professional pest control services.




What is a Mole?


A mole is a type of underground burrowing mammal related closely to bats and shrews. It’s very rare to see a mole in the wild, as they spend the majority of their existence underground. While they feed on mostly insects and are of no danger to your property's plants, their burrowing causes noticeable damage ground damage. The burrowing can became a larger problem when the upshift enough soil that it makes it hard for your plants to get water.   


Damage And Signs Of Mole Infestation


Moles live underground and dig expansive tunnel systems both to live in and feed. These tunnel systems are easily visible from the surface in the form of raised ridges that follows an underground tunnel. Molehills also arise along the route of the borrow or side tunnels.


Molehills are large dirt mounds created when the mole pushes the dirt it is digging out of its tunnel to the surface. These hills are cone shaped and can be rather large. Molehills not only contain loose soil but larger dirt clods as well. These molehills often are confused with gopher mounds because they look extremely similar. Where molehills typically are cone shaped a gopher mound will have a horseshoe like pattern. A single mole can do a great deal of damage as it can build a vast network of tunnels.    




What is a Gopher?


Pocket gophers are burrowing rodents from the same family as kangaroo rats. They live underground in vast tunnel networks that they use to collect their food and keep themselves safe from predators. While their burrowing activities are similar to moles, they have their own telltale signs and will eat vegetative matter.   


Damage And Signs Of Gopher Infestation

The common gopher is an herbivore making them very damaging to you property’s plant life. A gopher can easily kill entire trees simply by eating the tree’s root system or weakening the tree enough for it to surcome to diesase. Smaller plants can be drug completely underground to the gopher’s den. Gophers hoard food and are always looking for more.


Due to their burrowing activities, gophers leave their own unique signs. You can easily observe damage to the ground around the root area of a plant the gopher has been feeding on. They also leave mounds that are crescent shaped. One unique trait of these mounds is they have a dirt plug on them. Gophers also dig small holes, that they fill in, to emerge from and feed on plant life. Often the plant life around these holes is eaten, making these holes easy to spot.  




What is a Vole?


Voles are more commonly known as field mice or meadow mice. They are easily mistaken for gophers, but voles are far smaller. However, like gophers voles do similar damage to plant life. They also like eating bark as well plant root systems, bulbs, and shrubs. Voles live in burrows like moles and gophers, but like each have their own unique traits.   


Damage And Signs Of Vole Infestation


Voles live in burrows, but they are not equipped with the physical tools for digging their own like other animals. That means voles tend to move into the old abandoned burrows of gophers or moles. When a vole moves in, it has its own telltale signs of residence. Voles do not cover the entrance to their burrows. When a vole has moved into an existing tunnel system, the openings it uses will be clearly visible, often with an apparent pathway to it through the surrounding grass.  


Why It’s Important To Know Your Moles


While moles, gophers, and voles can do damage to your property, the damage differs between each animal. The signs of each creature’s presence is also unique.


It’s important to know what type of pest you're dealing with so you can contact a properly equipped professional to address your specific needs. Not all pest control services can handle certain burrowing pests that require different removal methods. By being able to read the signs, you save yourself time and effort when looking for a professional service.


Moles, gophers, and voles are no match for the professionals at Animal Damage Management. We specialize in removing pests from unwanted areas using environmentally safe methods. If you have a question about pest control, contact our knowledgeable team of experts today for assistance.