The other day I discovered this tiny baby field vole under a piece of wood in the grassy area of the wood. There are loads of these little cuties in the wood and they can often be seen under the bird feeders eating seed that has dropped. I scooped her up into a tub then and popped her in a glass tank filled with foliage to simulate her natural environment so I could take a few snaps on the camera. She's about half the size of an adult vole, measuring around 4cm in length; tiny!
Voles are herbivores and predominantly eat grasses but they will nibble on vegetables, seeds and nuts. I put some bird seed, grass and off cuts of veg into the tank to persuade the little vole to hold still for the camera. She got munching on the seed right away, creating a cute fluffy ball-like shape while she ate. After what must have been 10 minutes of serious seed munching she started to explore the tank; climbing over the bit of wood, tunneling into the pile of leaves and taking a bite of pretty much everything she walked past.
Here as some of the pictures I managed to snap of her while she was still (ish).
Baby vole in the bucket I scooped her up with
The tank set up to mimic her natural habitat
Look at those tiny paws!
Her perfectly round bottom while eating
The field vole is widespread across mainland UK and is thought be the most common British mammal. They can be easily distinguished from mice by their short tale, rounded nose and less prominent ears and eyes. Notice in the photos how the ears are not easily distinguishable from the rest of her body. Sadly they only live for around a year on average but mother voles make up for this by having up to 6 litters a year, each with 4 or 5 young. That’s around 30 babies a year!
After a few hours she had made a nest of grass under the loose bit of bark, frequently popping out for bits of food or foliage to drag into her nest. She looked so cosy I didn't want to make her go back outside in the wet weather so kept her in the tank for a couple of days while the end of the hurricane and rain passed. Last night I popped her back where I found her. Fingers crossed she grows up safely in the garden!