How to Catch a Vole with a Live Trap

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How to Catch a Vole with a Live Trap

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Just because you don't see a vole doesn't mean they're not there. These tiny animals burrow underground. Check your soil for tunnels."

How to Catch a Vole with a Live Trap

Voles are rodents, and they may look like a mouse at first glance. The unfortunate truth about voles is that if you spot one, there are probably more hiding. These tiny pests can cause extensive damage to trees, lawns, and gardens. One method of removing a vole from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch a vole with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is a vole. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies. 

Vole on White Background

Voles are generally 4 to 9 inches long. They normally weigh around 2 ounces and strongly resemble mice. Their fur color is typically either gray or brown. Voles have small ears, tails, and legs. Their diet mainly consists of grass, roots, and plant stems. Voles are active during both day and night.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with a vole on your property.


Once you've confirmed that your pest animal is a vole, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from voles. These animals are most likely searching your property for food. Search areas with trees, plants, and other vegetation, as voles will be in these areas looking for food.

What to Look For

Voles are burrowing creatures. They will dig and create areas to rest in, as well as tunnels to travel underground. Check for signs of a disturbed yard, such as fresh piles of dirt. If you have a garden, you will also want to look for damaged roots and wilting plants.


Now that you have identified your pest animal as a vole and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a vole picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources

Pulling Weeds

You want the vole to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. Remove any debris from your lawn, while also cleaning up birdseed if you have a bird feeder. You can also mow your grass and remove weeds to cut out additional food sources for these invasive creatures.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

Cage by Tree

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high vole activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. Since voles live in packs, consider placing several traps in your desired areas.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Trap Trigger

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching a vole. Use peanut butter as bait to ensure that a vole cannot take the bait and run away without being caught. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the vole will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door.

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap


You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade voles from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Vole


Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have captured a vole in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approach the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the vole. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area vole-free.


Raking Leaves

An unkempt yard will be sure to attract voles. Regularly maintain your area by mowing your lawn and removing weeds. Soil can be tilled to destroy established burrows. Sweep up and dispose of debris. This will prevent voles from returning in search of food.

Key Takeaways

  • Voles are similar in appearance to rats and are active during both day and night. They can cause extensive damage to trees, plants, and other vegetation.
  • Bait the live trap with peanut butter, making sure it is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap.
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once a vole is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly release it.
  • Prevent voles from entering your property again by removing any potential food sources. You can do this by regularly maintaining your lawn and removing debris, as well as other food sources such as birdseed and tilling the soil.
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