Definition of vole in US English:



  • A small, typically burrowing, mouse-like rodent with a rounded muzzle, found in both Eurasia and North America.

    Subfamily Microtinae (or Arvicolinae), family Muridae: several genera, in particular Microtus, and numerous species

    • ‘In kangaroo rats and some vole species, investigators have found that male brains have a slightly larger hippocampus.’
    • ‘Wildcats prey mainly on smaller animals, particularly voles, wood mice, and seabirds but they also kill rabbits and mountain hares.’
    • ‘The group is currently working on gaining protection for the lands and developing corridors that suit species from big cats to tiny voles.’
    • ‘During the breeding season, they eat mostly lemmings and voles.’
    • ‘Kestrels eat voles, mice and shrews, small birds, insects and earthworms.’
    • ‘In Scandinavia, hawk owls usually breed only during bursts in the population of voles and lemmings.’
    • ‘Investigators are coming closer to answering this question by studying voles, small rodents commonly known as field mice.’
    • ‘For some still undetermined reason, the numbers of voles, lemmings, and hares soar in some years and plummet in others.’
    • ‘It has now become a haven for wildlife such as deer, voles and hedgehogs, and boasts rare wild flowers’
    • ‘The estimate for vole abundance is expressed as the number of voles per 100 trap nights and combines field and bank vole numbers.’
    • ‘Other animals found nearby included two extinct species of vole - a small rodent resembling a mouse - that were used to date the site.’
    • ‘A crucial twist is that not only do voles eat seedlings while mice eat seeds, but voles and mice have different food preferences.’
    • ‘For example, eagles are able to spot a vole or lizard from more than 400 m away.’
    • ‘Different levels of the receptor are thought to explain the very different behaviours of meadow voles and prairie voles.’
    • ‘When voles are abundant, they become a major source of food, and in these years, some Barn Owls may be able to raise additional broods.’
    • ‘An organism - say, a vole - that faces predation has, say, two alternative strategies - to dig and hide or to flee its predators.’
    • ‘Small mammals, especially rodents such as voles, pocket gophers, and mice make up most of the Great Gray Owl's diet.’
    • ‘They are nocturnal hunters and feed mainly on small mammals like mice, rats, voles and shrews.’
    • ‘In spring and winter, especially in the northern part of their range, they prey predominantly on voles.’
    • ‘The rough field margins, which hold the mice and voles on which the owls feed, were ploughed up, while the amalgamation of fields through hedge removal reduced them even more.’


Early 19th century (originally vole-mouse): from Norwegian voll(mus) ‘field (mouse)’.