Form and Function

The California Meadow Vole’s physical appearance varies depending on where they live. Microtus californicus has a lot of variation when it comes to the size of the vole. Species found in the south are usually much larger than those found in the north (ADW 2002). This is due to the different types of habitats the voles occupy and specific predators. In the northern part of California the total length of the vole varies between 139 and 207 mm (ADW 2002). The male California Meadow Vole always weighs more than the female. The male vole weighs between 33 and 81 g with an average of 52 g. The female vole weighs between 30 and 68g with an average of 47g (ADW 2002). A size comparison to the vole would be bigger than a household mouse but smaller than a rat. 
The coat of these small mammals also depends on the habitat the species lives in. The range of their coat colors is from a light brown, to a brownish gray, to a dark brown depending on their surroundings. The California Meadow Vole has had changes in their coat color to help them blend in with their surroundings to avoid predators. They also can be more of a reddish color in the desert or even black towards the coast. The feet of this small mammal are very pale and their eyes are very dark brown to black (ADW 2002). The California Meadow Vole has a very stocky body, very short legs, and quite small rounded ears (Vertebrate Pest Control Handbook 2009).

            The California Meadow vole is active during both the day and night (Vertebrate Pest Control Handbook 2009). They only come out of their burrows in which they live in to feed, urinate, and defecate (Cudworth and Koprowski 2010). The average amount of time spent in these runways each time their used is 7 minutes during the daylight and 1 minute during night time. The average amount total spent in these burrows in a day is 1.7 hours (Cudworth and Koprowski 2010). In order to get around they dig small tracks in the ground and use these as runways (ADW 2002). All meadow voles are also able to swim well even though they are very small mammals. (Vertebrate Pest Control Handbook 2009).

Next, read about the Reproduction of the California Meadow Vole.