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Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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Common vole

Rote Liste NRW: u Ungefährdet

Microtus arvalis




Foto: Bernhard Walter
The Common Vole belongs to the arvicoline rodents and has an appropriate tubular body, short legs and a short tail, as well as small ears and eyes. This species can be confused with the Field Vole; however, the Common Vole is usually less brown and greyer than the Field Vole.
The Common Vole is the typical vole species of open, emptied agrarian landscape. It has used these to reach such high densities in the past that it led to damages in agriculture, but that was a long time ago in NRW. Since the end of the 70s of the last century, 2007 was the only year that saw one unusual mass reproduction. Because of the intensification of agriculture, utilized increasingly for corn and rapeseed with more machining passes and less for grassland with an ecologically sound mowing frequency, the Common Vole populations have strongly declined compared to earlier decades. The core habitats of this species today are no longer fields and meadows but only trail and street margins and fallow land. Because of their area-wide distribution in NRW (gaps on the distribution map are based on observational deficits, not on an actual absence of the species), the species is not considered as threatened, although with the continued intensification of agricultural practices, it must be assumed that this species too will fulfil the threatened criteria.
The decline of the Common Vole has effects on the populations of many predators (kestrel, common buzzard, all owl species except the Eurasian eagle owl, fox and mustelids), which depend on solid populations of this species. If the Common Vole drops out as a food base, it has indirect consequences for the European Hare and many grassland bird species because the predators can then no longer live predominantly on Common Voles but have to search for an alternative food source.
For the construction of nests and successful reproduction, the Common Vole requires open lands with a ground water table distance of at least 40 cm, for it constructs its nests underground. By means of its burrowing activity, it contributes to a better aeration of the soil, and through its metabolism it contributes to an accelerated accessibility of nutrients and their variable spatial distribution. For the construction of their colonies, Common Voles prefer areas that are sufficiently distanced from hedges and forest edges, for these provide perches for hawks and owls.


Holger Meinig


Meinig H (2023): Feldmaus (Microtus arvalis).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27



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