Townsend’s Vole – Rodentia Muridae Microtus townsendi


Identification & Description:
The Townsend’s Vole is from the order Rodentia. The largest group of mammals is the Rodentia. A rough generalisation is most non-flying mammals are rodents. Prairie Dogs, beavers, porcupines and many others are classified as rodents.

The Townsend’s Vole has a single pair of incisors in each jaw. These teeth will grow continually throughout its life. It has a high rate of reproduction, and this is one key factor in attributing to the success of this species.

The Townsend’s vole is one of the largest voles in North America, and it is also very abundant where it occurs. It has dark brownish fur and ears large enough to stick out above its fur. Dark brown above, gray below; feet dusky; large ears. Total length: 15-25 cm; tail: 5-8 cm; mass: 40-100 g.

The Townsend’s vole has a high reproductive rate. It is capable of breeding at 3 weeks of age, and can produce up to 13 litters of four to eight young a year.

Townsend’s Vole may be active day or night. Their habitat is marshes, wet meadows and riparian woodlands. When numbers are high they may exclude other rodents from its range through competition. Their diet includes velvet grass and other grasses, horsetail, alfalfa, clover, rushes, sedges, purple-eyed grass, and buttercups. When green food is still available in winter, the Townsend.s Vole often stores and eats bulbs at that time. A good swimmer, this vole often constructs the entrances to its burrow system underwater. In summer and winter its nests are constructed of grass. In summer, the nest is placed inside a rounded knoll above water level. In winter, it is placed on dry ground away from water, which might freeze and prevent access. They use runways most of the year except when vegetation in summer is thick enough to completely conceal their bodies and they can move about at will under the cover of the vegetation.

Breeds from early spring through late summer or early fall; several litters of 1–9 young each; gestation 21–24 days.

Marshes and moist, grassy areas, often in rank vegetation.

The Townsend’s Vole is found in (but not necessarily limited to) Canada. Southeastern British Columbia and Vancouver Island south to northwest California.