How to Catch Voles

Updated March 23, 2017

Like moles, voles dig holes in yards, but voles are especially destructive in gardens, where they feed on roots. Voles, also known as field mice, belong to the mouse family; mousetraps catch them best. Mousetraps can be stabilised in dirt, which makes particularly effective for catching voles outdoors.

Determine whether you have moles or voles, since the strategy differs between the two. Voles can be differentiated from moles by their smaller, more numerous holes. Also, moles push up long ridges of soil above their tunnels, unlike the much smaller voles.

Purchase Woodstream Victor Quickset mousetraps at your local hardware store or online. This specific model uses jaws that can be placed slightly inside the hole to block the exit, so the vole has two reasons to enter the trap's jaws: the bait and to push open its hole again.

Bait the inside of the trap with peanut butter or Nutella. Their strong smells are effective at drawing voles. Do not bait the edges: The bait needs to be placed deep inside. Place it on the back of the trigger mechanism instead of the front. Otherwise, the vole might lick the bait clean without releasing the trigger.

Locate holes and set traps in all of them. That could be well over a dozen, but it's the best strategy. You want to kill as many voles as you can at one time, so they don't learn from their dead relatives' mistakes and start avoiding the traps. Place the open jaws of the trap slightly into the hole to keep it erect and immobile.

Check the traps once a day. Expect to kill three to six voles a day with this method. Replenish the bait after each kill.


The best time to trap is early in the season (early spring) when the population is small. If you'd rather use a more humane approach, use a double-door trap. Voles don't come out of holes easily though, so this may not be as effective. Cover the trap with leaves, as they prefer cover. Release the trapped voles into fields or forests a mile or more from your home. Biological control methods include rescuing a shelter cat or getting a Jack Russell terrier (originally bred as ratters). A hawk or owl could be drawn to roost in your garden if you affix a crossbeam 180 to 300 cm (6 to 10 feet) off the ground.


Do not use the Quickset mousetraps on indoor mice. Traditional wood traps have stronger springs and are heavier, so they don't jump out of position as much when they snap. Moving out of position can cause a trap to catch only an arm or a fold of skin, allowing escape or causing a prolonged, unnecessarily inhumane death.

Things You'll Need

  • Woodstream Victor Quickset mousetraps
  • Peanut butter or Nutella
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About the Author

Paul Dohrman's academic background is in physics and economics. He has professional experience as an educator, mortgage consultant, and casualty actuary. His interests include development economics, technology-based charities, and angel investing.