Can You Keep Voles as Pets? 5 Things to Consider

Voles to most people are harmful pests that should be gotten rid of at the earliest possible opportunity. This is because they are quite destructive and can damage young plants, shrubs and trees when they strip them for food.

Even so, some animal lovers now appreciate how good these animals are as pets. They are small mammals that form a part of the rodent order and belong to the same subfamily as lemmings and muskrats.

Voles are sometimes called field mice owing to their resemblance to house mice and their typical habitat in dense fields.

Voles measure 4-9 inches and have small round ears that are hard to see because they are covered by fur. The animals generally have grey or brown fur. Voles thrive in almost all eco-systems and will spend most of their lives underground.

They have intricate burrows and tunnels where they protect themselves and store their food. If you want to keep them as pets, there are several facts you should know to ease the domestication of these animals.

Do Voles Make Good Pets?

Yes, you can keep voles as pets, and they make good pets if you can give them what they need. However, it would be a better choice to keep a domestic mouse as a pet, because voles are wild animals and can carry diseases.

Things to Consider When Keeping Voles as Pets

While voles will make good pets when properly looked after, the following are considerations to have in mind when choosing them for your household:

– Wild Voles Can Carry Diseases

The CDC has an extensive list of the possible diseases that can be transmitted by rodents. Below are the common ones that voles can carry:

  • Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome: This is transmitted via vegetables or flowers that have been contaminated by urine from an infected vole. Though voles will rarely bite, their bite can also transmit Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
  • Salmonellosis: This is transmitted through the consumption of foods or drinks that have been contaminated by droppings from an infected vole.
  • Lassa fever: Humans can contract Lassa virus when they are bitten by an infected vole or come into direct contact with contaminated droppings from the animal.
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis: This can be transmitted to humans from infected voles through bites, urine, droppings or physical contact.
  • Leptospirosis: This is a bacterial infection transmitted by consuming foods and drinks contaminated by the droppings and urine of an infected vole.
  • Rabies: Voles, like other rodents, can get rabies then transmit it to humans through bites.

– Wild Voles Can be Aggressive in Captivity

Voles are not generally aggressive and will prefer running and hiding when they come across humans in their natural habitats.

Even so, when they get cornered, they will try to defend themselves. As such, your vole might be aggressive for the first few days in captivity before getting accustomed to its new environment.

– Wild Voles Can Bite You

The most common line of defense used by voles when they feel threatened is biting the aggressor.

Wild voles might bite you and other household pets, transmitting several diseases in the process. It would be best if you were thus careful when dealing with them.

– Voles Have a Short Lifespan

You will often form an emotional bond with your pets. Losing them within a short period is something you would not want to imagine. Unfortunately, voles have a short lifespan and will live for about a year.

Even so, you can choose to keep several voles that will breed and keep your cage full throughout. The animals reach sexual maturity within four weeks of birth, and females can get about 100 offspring annually.

– Voles Smell Bad

If you are sensitive to smells, you might reconsider getting a pet vole. This is because the animal has a specific body smell.

Though not as strong as that in mice, voles leave a distinct pungent odor in their surroundings. This smell is generally thought to be a form of communication between voles to signify danger and other messages.

What Bedding Do Voles Need?

Your vole should be as comfortable as possible in its cage to give the highest possible benefits as a pet. In the wild, voles live underground, and this environment should ideally be replicated in captivity.

To replicate it, include lots of gravel, mulch and sand in your vole’s cage for its bedding. Your vole will burrow through this soft bedding and spend most of its time underground.

Change and clean the bedding as needed to guarantee the healthiest environment for your vole.

What Do Voles Eat?

One of your primary concerns when keeping voles is giving them an appropriate diet. Voles are herbivores, but they are not obligate ones.

This means that though they prefer plants, fruits, seeds and nuts for their food, they can also eat meat when plant-based feeds are scarce. The meat in a vole’s diet is often in the form of insects and snails.

Is It Better To Keep The Vole In a Glass Tank Or a Cage?

You can choose to keep your vole in a glass cage or an open cage. The better option between these two is a glass cage.

This will contain the mess caused by the vole as it burrows through its beddings. With the open cage, the bedding materials will spill out and necessitate constant cleaning.

Wrapping Up

With these guidelines, you are now in a good position to make the best vole owner. Voles can thrive in both warm and cold climates. It, however, is advisable to have a heater in your vole’s cage.

This heater should have a temperature setting of 73-90 degrees so that it does not make the cage uncomfortably hot. The heater is ideally placed on one end of the cage such that your vole can decide whether to stay on the warmed side or move towards the cooler side.

Thankfully, the care level of voles is low and keeping these animals as pets is easy. It nonetheless will take time more time than it does with other domesticated animals for a vole to be accustomed to captivity.

Give it time and invest in playtime with the vole. This way, the animal can quickly become accustomed to you and its new environment.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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