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Neither a vole nor a rat are welcome guests in our gardens. No wonder: Both can cause considerable damage there, with rats there is also a certain disgust factor. Of course, in order to get rid of them, you first have to identify exactly which rodent it is. The best way to orientate oneself is to follow their traces and legacies. You will not usually get to see the nocturnal animals.

Vole or rat?

There are a number of animals that you can be happy to have in your garden. These include birds and hedgehogs, but also earthworms. The absolutely undesirable animal guests, on the other hand, include voles and rats. Although they do not pose any direct danger to humans, their natural behavior can lead to significant problems. One of the peculiarities of both rodents is that they have a certain fondness for digging through the garden. Voles create a widely ramified network of tunnels and burrows. They keep throwing up mounds of earth. In rats, this urge is far less pronounced. However, they stubbornly undercut stone slabs in order to be able to withdraw into the caves they created.

notice: Voles in the garden may be combated, but a mole is a nature reserve and may not even be driven away. The rodents can be easily distinguished by their mounds: in voles they are rather small and flat, in moles they are large and round to spherical.

In order to be able to combat voles and rats effectively, it is first necessary to determine what type of rodent it is. The easiest way to do this is to take a close look at the legacies, traces and changes in the garden. Most of the time you will hardly see the animals themselves. Differences can usually be determined by taking a closer look at the garden.


The following abnormalities are typical for voles:


Mounds of earth indicate that voles have made their way into the garden. Rats dig, too, but don't throw up mounds.


Voles tend to dig an extensive system of burrows in the ground. However, they dig relatively close to the surface. If you break into such a near-surface passage while walking, this also indicates a corresponding infestation. Rats, on the other hand, do not create such tunnels.

crop damage

In contrast to the rat and incidentally also to the mole, a vole is a pure herbivore. If you discover eaten plants in the garden area and especially in the beds, this is a clear indication of an infestation with voles. One gets certainty at the latest when the roots have been eaten by plants.


The following abnormalities are in turn typical of rats:


If a slab or garden path is suddenly undermined, there is a high probability that a rat was at work underneath. A vole, on the other hand, will tend to avoid paths.

notice: The undercut serves as a retreat for the rat during the day. It is always open on one side to enable her to escape as quickly as possible in the event of danger.

rat feces

Rats don't have a specific place to relieve themselves. They therefore spread their droppings over the entire area - both below and above ground. So if you discover rat droppings, you can confidently assume that at least one of the animals lives here. Rat droppings are more spindle-shaped in shape, reminiscent of a grain of rice, but much larger at around two centimeters long. Fresh droppings are shiny black. Older droppings, on the other hand, appear dried out and quickly become crumbly.

rat feces

gnawing damage

Rats are omnivores. They hardly spurn any possible food. Rats can therefore often be recognized very easily by the gnawing damage they have caused. The young shoots on the trees are not excluded. The animals are excellent climbers who climb the trunk of the tree into the branches and feast there. Gnawing marks in trees is therefore a pretty sure indication of a rat infestation. Voles would never, ever do that. A vole hardly tends to climb anyway.


If rats move in the garden, they will always use the same paths if possible. These routes are relatively easy to spot over time. They show up as relatively narrow lanes on which the dirt has largely been trodden. Often you can also see the tracks of the animals in it.

compost infestation

If you have compost on your property, you will quickly find out that chaos reigns there when there is a rat infestation. The animals rummage through the compost in search of food with a certain penchant. They mainly look for animal food such as worms. However, they do not disdain any leftovers from us humans. A vole isn't even remotely interested in that.


The differences between voles and rats should have become clear. The traces of both rodents should normally be relatively easy to spot. What is important is simply the attentive view of the garden. As soon as changes become noticeable there, you should definitely keep an eye on the matter. Incidentally, a single mound of earth in the lawn does not necessarily mean that voles have settled on the site. Several hills, on the other hand, are a clear indication. Even if the compost has been rummaged through by a rat, the rat may still live somewhere else. The following therefore applies to both rodents: If several tracks appear at the same time and, above all, frequently, one can assume that uninvited guests have spread. Rats in particular can multiply explosively and in a very short time. In the case of frequent rat tracks, it is highly recommended to call an exterminator who will take a close look at the problem.

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