prairie vole

(Microtus ochrogaster)

Conservation Status

 

No Image Available

 
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

 
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable

 
  Minnesota

Special Concern

Species in Greatest Conservation Need

 
           
 
Description
 
 

The head and body are 3½ to 5 long. The coloration does not change in the winter. The coat (pelage) is grayish-brown to dark brown with black-tipped and tawny-tipped hairs, giving it a grizzled appearance. The back is somewhat darker than the sides. The underside is yellowish. The legs and feet are yellowish brown.

The tail is 1 to 1¾ long and bicolored.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Head and body: 3½ to 5

Tail: 1 to 1¾

 
     
 

Sign

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) pelage does not have a grizzled appearance. The belly is not yellowish. The tail is longer, 12 5 to 23 5 long. Where the ranges overlap meadow vole will be in wetter areas.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Prairies, fields, thickets, railroads. Dry areas.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults are active mostly during twilight.

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

Less than one year

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Prairie voles are reproductively monogamous but not sexually monogamous. They form pair bonds that last a lifetime, but will mate with other voles if the opportunity arises. Breeding takes place year-round but mostly in the spring and fall. Two to four litters are produced each year. There are usually 3 or 4 offspring per litter though there may be as few as 2 or as many as 7. Gestation lasts 20 to 23 days. The offspring reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 weeks. Adults usually live less than one year but may live up to two years.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Diet consists mostly of grasses, tubers, roots, seeds, and when available, insects. In the winter they sometimes eat the bark of woody shrubs.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

4, 6, 7, 29, 30, 76.

Prairie vole (M. o. ochrogaster) is found only in southeastern Minnesota.

Least meadow mouse (M. o. minor) is found in the remainder of the state except the northeast.

 
  9/3/2022      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

 

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placental mammals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires (primates, rodents, and allies)  
  Clade Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Rodentiia (rodents)  
  Suborder Myomorpha (mice, rats, and hamsters)  
  Superfamily Muroidea (muroids)  
 

Family

Cricetidae (hamsters, voles, lemmings, and allies)  
 

Subfamily

Arvicolinae (voles, lemmings, and muskrats)  
  Tribe Microtini (microtine voles)  
 

Genus

Microtus (meadow voles)  
  Subgenus Pedomys  
       
 

The genus Microtus was formerly included with Arvicola in the broadly defined tribe Arvicolini based on morphological similarity. Recent molecular genetic analysis showed that the two genera are not “sister taxa.” In 2006, Microtus was moved to the new tribe Microtini that now contains seven other genera, all with rootless, ever growing molars and crown cement.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Hayden vole (Microtus ochrogaster haydenii)

least meadow mouse (Microtus ochrogaster minor)

Louisiana vole (Microtus ochrogaster ludovicianus)

Ohio prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster ohioensis)

prairie meadow vole (Microtus ochrogaster austerus)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster ochrogaster)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster similis)

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster taylori)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Arvicola austerus

Hypudaeus ochrogaster

Microtus ludovicianus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

prairie vole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Pelage

The coat of a mammal, consisting of fur, wool, or hair, and including a soft undercoat and stiff guard hairs.

 
 
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Other Videos
 
  The Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Mar 13, 2011

Photographed at the Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (13 March 2010).

   

 

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