Plants and Animals

Microtus pinetorum Woodland vole

species photo
David Cuthrell

Key Characteristics

The woodland vole is a small mouse-like rodent (4.3 to 5.5 inches/11 to 14 cm) with short, dense, reddish-brown fur, small eyes and ears (0.4-0.5 in/1-1.3 cm), and a short tail (0.7-0.9 in/1.8 - 2.4 cm) barely longer than the hindfoot.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S3S4 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from vulnerable to apparently secure


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 2 1939
Barry 1 1960
Benzie 2 1968
Berrien 2 1978
Charlevoix 1 1923
Cheboygan 2 2016
Clare 1 1940
Clinton 2 1966
Crawford 1 1978
Emmet 3 2016
Genesee 1 1929
Gratiot 1 1926
Ingham 1 1938
Kalamazoo 1 1937
Leelanau 1 1932
Livingston 1 1938
Manistee 1 1960
Oakland 1 1935
Shiawassee 1 1929
Washtenaw 2 1929

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


The woodland vole occurs in deciduous woodlands with loose sandy soils, deep humus, and heavy leaf litter. Although it prefers deciduous forests comprised of oak, maple and/or beech, the woodland vole can potentially be found in any forest type. It can also be found in orchards. The woodland vole has a very small home range, generally moving no more than 50-100 feet (15-30 m) from the nest.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

The woodland vole depends on litter cover near surface runways, so heavy leaf litter and grass cover are desirable. The woodland vole can be problematic in southern states when it girdles trees in apple orchards, though it has not been documented to cause significant damage in Michigan. If your objective is to discourage the species, keep grassy areas of orchards mowed short rather than using poison to remove woodland voles.

Active Period

Breeding from first week of February to first week of November

Survey Methods

Woodland voles are active year round, day and night. Populations are generally thought to be largest in late summer to early fall and better survey success may be achieved at the later portion of the survey window. Some research suggests the species may be most active during twilight and evening hours.

Live traps in tunnels

Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of October

Pitfall traps in tunnels

Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of October


Survey References

  • Baker, R.H. 1983. Michigan Mammals. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
  • Wilson, D.E., F.R. Cole, J.D. 1996. Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity - Standard Methods for Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.

Technical References

  • Baker, R.H. 1983. Michigan Mammals. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
  • Kurta, A. 1995. Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.

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