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Red Backed Voles
(Clethrionomys gapperi)

© EnTER Fantasia Exotics, Kevin Brooks and Ann Vole, 2000-2001.
This interview was originally published on EnTER Fantasia Exotics by Kevin Brooks.
It is reproduced here with permission from Kevin Brooks and Ann Vole.

Interview with Ann Vole

Positives as Pets:

Negatives as Pets:


Do they have scent glands or smell?
I cannot smell any glands or special smells. The litter smells like human urine when wet from urine.

How long do they live?
I have read about various captive species in labs that live 4-10 years depending on species.

Do they enjoy interaction?
They seem to calm down fast when you pet them and enjoy being petted.

What is their general personality, disposition and attitude?
They are skittish like guinea pigs but calm down when picked up. Also like guinea pigs, they run in short bursts and try to hide under things (including under other voles). They like the run wheel and climb almost as well as mice but let go of what they are holding with their back feet if upside down.

Are they sweet and pet-able, or mischievous and playful?
They are mostly sweet and pet-able and less mischievous or playful.

How messy are their droppings?
Their droppings are firm but not hard so are clean if not squished before drying. They poo like deer (lots of little ones at the same time) so the dried poo is quite small.

Can they be trained?
I have not trained them to do tricks yet, but I think they would likely be easier then other rodents their size because they always watch you instead of just running away like mice or being constantly distracted like gerbils.

How are voles with other pets, larger and smaller?
I have two different species that get along fine together. When catching wild ones, I often kept them for a few hours with house, white-footed, and deer mice and they did not injure or get injured (the house mice fought other house mice but the rest were nice to each other).

What size cage do they need?
Because of the high amount of peeing they do, I have been keeping them in cages instead of aquariums to aid drying. They do not need much extra room per vole because they love to pile together but they enjoy tunneling and climbing so more stuff for them to climb on and dig under the better. Otherwise, size cages like for mice.

What is the best diet for them?
They require very little protein but seem to do fine as lab animals on mouse/rat food. I believe they eat lots of leaves in the wild so grass, hay, alfalfa, and leafy vegetables are good to add.

What vaccinations/vet care do they require?

At what age would it be best to get one?
They seem to be just as easy to tame no matter what age they are when I catch them.

Email Ann Vole to find out more about Red Backed Voles; be sure to include the word "vole" in the subject line.

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