Vole, a mouselike rodent. Voles are usually 4 to 10 inches (10 to 25 cm) long including the 1- to 2-inch (2.5- to 5-cm) tail. Voles have stocky bodies with short legs. Their small ears and eyes are almost hidden in their long, brownish gray fur. Voles are active throughout the year; they do not hibernate. They make nests in a variety of places, including burrows and old logs. Litters of up to 12 young are born two to six times a year. Voles eat tender plants, bark, seeds, and certain insects. They are preyed upon by owls, hawks, and carnivores. Voles are very abundant and can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Meadow voles, commonly called field mice, inhabit open, grassy areas. Red-backed voles and heather voles usually populate woodlands. Water voles live near streams and ponds.
Voles belong to the subfamily Microtinae, which includes lemmings and muskrats, of the family Muridae. Meadow voles make up several species of the genus Microtus; red-backed voles, several species of Clethrionomys; heather voles, several species of Phenacomys; the water vole, Arvicola terrestris.