One of the animals that have recently become popular as pets are voles. These are small rodents that closely resemble mice. In a few places, voles are called field or meadow mice. Voles belong to the Rodentia order and the Arvicolinae subfamily.
This subfamily also includes muskrats and lemmings. There are at least 150 species of voles. They grow to lengths of 3-9 inches (7.5 – 23 cm) based on their species. Voles have stouter bodies, shorter, hairy tails, somewhat rounder heads and different molars compared to other rodents. They also have smaller ears and eyes than the latter.
Voles can live in both warm and cold climates. There are few habitats in which these animals cannot thrive. They will be as much at home in meadows and prairies as they will be in urban areas.
Voles have the shortest lifespans among rodents living for 3-12 months in the wild. In captivity under favorable conditions, however, they can live for three years.
The best possible diet is among your best bets to guarantee your vole lives for the longest time. Voles are herbivores, though not strict ones.
Here are guidelines on a vole’s diet to boost the wellbeing of your pet.
Foods That Voles Love
After a period of adaptation, voles will thrive in captivity and can be fed on several natural-ingredient feeds. Pelleted diets meant for mice, guinea pigs, and rabbits are commonly used for pet voles with successful outcomes.
The following are among the other favorite feeds you should include in your vole’s diet:
- Seeds and grains: grains and seeds remain natural vole favorites whether they are attached to plants or harvested and stored for later. Corn, dry rolled oats and unsalted sunflower seeds are among the grains and seeds you should feed your vole. Nuts like cashews and almonds are favorites for voles like all rodents. These are high-protein sources that deliver a considerable amount of energy for the vole to handle its daily routine.
- Vegetables: in the wild, voles will often raid moist gardens with plenty of vegetable cover. Some of the best vegetables to give your pet vole include broccoli, peas, carrots, sweet parsley, cooked sweet potatoes, squash, bok choy and potatoes. Voles can feed on the roots, stems and leaves of these vegetables.
- Fruits: though voles are talented in digging, they are not good climbers. As such, they will eat fallen fruits in the wild. Some of the fruits that voles will love include apples, avocados, blackberries, raspberries, bananas, grapes, melons, and pears. When giving these to your vole, remember to remove the seeds since they can choke your pet.
- Greens: in the wild, grass makes a significant portion of a vole’s diet. This should be replicated in its diet as a pet with a lot of green leafy vegetables and fresh grass.
- Insects and snails: snails and insects also occasionally form a part of a vole’s diet since the animal is not an obligate herbivore. In the wild, voles will eat snails and insects only when plant-based feeds are scarce. As pets, you should include them in the vole’s diet occasionally for balance.
A vole diet that heavily relies on succulents like apples and lettuce or grains and seeds is not recommended.
This is because the diet increases the odds of your pet vole suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiencies. It would be best if you thus aimed for a bit of everything for your pet vole.
Foods That Voles Do Not Like
Voles eat almost anything and are among the hardiest pets you can keep. Even so, they are more of herbivores and will generally prefer plant-based feeds. If you want to endear yourself to a vole, include a lot of these feeds in its diet.
Most people will give voles the same diets as pet mice, assuming that this is ok since both are rodents. Even so, voles will not love the high meat content in most mice feeds.
What Do Baby Voles Eat?
If you adopt a baby vole, get a milk substitute constituting 25% colostrum and 75% Esibilac to meet its nutritional needs. You can put this in a dropper such that the baby vole will only get a few drops of this substitute in every feed.
Feed the vole every 2-3 hours at night and each hour during the day. However, if your baby vole is already furry, you can negate the night feeds.
Dandelion, clover and chickweed, among other green foods, are ideal when weaning your vole off the milk substitute at about nine days old.
When Are Voles Looking For Food?
Voles are active throughout and will not hibernate like other animals when conditions are unfavorable. They will often girdle tree roots and trunks if green vegetation becomes scarce in their natural habitats.
Voles are most active at dusk and dawn in the wild when they make short forays from their burrows to the fields looking for food. Each foray will last for approximately ten minutes.
Can Voles Eat Meat?
Yes, voles can eat meat. They will consume carrion if they find it. Voles can also feed on snails and insects like gypsy moths.
Moreover, a few researchers have pointed to the possibility of voles turning cannibals and feeding on the other members of their species when populations are too high or there is lack of food available.
Do Voles Drink Water?
Yes, voles like other rodents need water. While most of the water in your vole’s diet will be supplied in the food it consumes, have a water bottle nearby for your pet to quench its thirst.
Each vole is different when drinking water. While some will take a few sips from the water bottle every few minutes, others will visit the watering spot only once in a while but take a big drink.
Can Voles Eat Chocolates?
Yes, voles can eat chocolates. Even so, chocolates are not healthy foods for your pet vole. They are too fattening and cause a high rise in their sugar levels.
Some pet owners think fat voles are cute, but obesity will decrease the lifespan of your vole.
Voles are truly interesting animals to keep as pets, and their care is relatively easy. Other than keeping the above dietary tidbits in mind, spend time with your vole.
This allows the animal to become accustomed to and connect with you.