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Range Map
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MAMMALS » SMALL
Rock Vole

Rock Vole
Microtus chrotorrhinus

This rare vole, with a diagnostic yellow nose, is known only from the mountains of far eastern Tennessee.

Description
: A small, stocky rodent with short legs, large head, and small eyes. The nose is distinctly yellowish to orange and spreads back towards the moderately large ears. The back color is yellowish-brown and the belly is silvery-gray. Their tail is relatively long and it is slightly lighter below.
Length: 5.4 - 7.3 inches
Tail: 1.8 - 2.1 inches
Ears: 0.5 - 0.8 inches
Weight: 1.0 - 1.38 ounces

Similar Species: Prairie, Woodland, and Southern Red-backed Voles, and Southern Bog Lemming all lack yellow noses.

Habitat
: Rock Voles occur in a specialized habitat of cool, moist talus slopes with mossy rocks and logs, in the mountains.

Diet:
Green vegetation, especially bunchberries, blueberries, mosses, grasses, ferns, and other plants, constitute most of their diet. They will also eat invertebrates and fungi.

Breeding information:
Breeding occurs between spring and late fall. Females produce 2-3 litters per year on average. The gestation period is believed to be 19-21 days and litter sizes range from 1-7 (average 3-4) young. Nests are not very well built, which is believed to result in low juvenile survival.

Status in Tennessee:
The Rock Vole is uncommon, and Deemed in Need of Management by TWRA and Tennessee Department or Environment and Conservation.

Fun Facts
:
  • Rock Voles are mostly diurnal, but they are still rarely seen.
  • The Latin name Microtus means "small ears," which applies to all voles, and chrotorrhinus means "color and nose," which refers to their yellow noses.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Forest openings in the Appalachian Mountains.

For more information:

Sources:
Kirkland, Jr., G. L., and F. J. Jannett, Jr. 1982. Microtus chrotorrhinus. Mammalian Species, 180:1-5.

Whitaker, Jr., J. O. 1980. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York.