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As the recent snows have thawed, I've seen this little chap a few times in a quiet corner of my garden.
(Not a particularly good photo - he moves quickly!)

Bank Vole

Clearly not a mouse or a rat, I believe this is a Bank Vole. It is coming under the fence from the open woodland that adjoins the back of my property. It is picking up seeds dropped from the bird table.

Although not endangered, Voles are not very common in this part of southern England. So I would like to encourage or protect these little creatures. I am planning to replant this corner of the garden this year - What would be a good approach?

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Generously put out bird seed , sunflower. The birds knock a lot on the ground where the voles get it. We need to be careful walking out to the bird feeders as the voles have hollowed out the ground enough that a foot can sink down 2 inches below the normal soil surface. I don't know what flavor of voles that we have but there are a lot. I also made the mistake of planting "running" bamboo . It has run a great distance, I believe the voles eat the underground rhizomes or shoots. Maybe you can find a similar plant. Our copperheads are becoming active , that will somewhat balance our vole population.

  • Yes, the voles are clearly going for the bird seed and, as you suggest, are creating small tunnels under the fence. I'll keep that corner of the garden quiet. – Chenmunka Apr 4 '18 at 15:01
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According to the "Wildlife Gardening Forum" "Mammals in your garden" pdf http://www.wlgf.org/ne24mammals.pdf - "If you have a large lawn, you could consider letting one part of it grow long, only mowing it every couple of years. This may encourage field voles into your garden to live in the mat of dead stems at the bottom of the grass clumps." Also, eliminate all domestic cats ("the most dangerous garden predator of all", according to the WGF) within a ten mile radius.

  • I shudder to think how you intend to implement the last suggestion. – Stephie Mar 26 '18 at 11:39
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    @Stephie - mass planting of Nepeta cataria eleven miles away? – Peter4075 Mar 26 '18 at 17:04
  • Good point. Should solve 2/3 of the problem. – Stephie Mar 26 '18 at 17:07
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I'm not sure you're trying to get the bank vole to stay in the garden, or even move in, as it's a bank vole. If that's a quiet corner of your garden, and you create a reasonably sized planting area, I don't think it matters what you grow, the vole will negotiate its way behind the planting, where it can't be seen. What's important is not filling in the hole he's made to get under the fence, and if the bird table is currently in that area, try to plan the planting so it's still there. There is a drawback to bird seed dropping onto open soil in a planted area though - some of it germinates, and it's usually a cereal crop which you'll be needing to weed out.

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