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Meadow-vole

A relatively large vole, the meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) has a rounded, stocky body and a blunt nose. Compared to those of most rodents, the meadow vole’s whiskers are relatively inconspicuous. The ears of this species are small and rounded and are partially hidden in the fur, and the eyes are also smal. The meadow vole has short legs, while its scantily haired tail is rather long, usually being at least twice as long as the hind foot. The dense, soft fur of the meadow vole is overlaid with some coarser hairs, but is still much finer overall than that of some other vole species. The upperparts of the meadow vole are dull chestnut-brown to dark brown with numerous interspersed black hair, while the sides are slightly paler. The belly is blackish with a frosting of white, which gives it a silvery-grey appearanc. The meadow vole’s feet and tail are darker above and paler belo. In the winter, the fur tends to become darker and greyer. The size and colour of the meadow vole varies depending on geographic location, with individuals from more southerly parts of its range generally being larger and much darker. There are currently several recognised subspecies of meadow vole. Newborn meadow voles are hairless, but grow brown fur by the third day. Young voles tend to be much darker than adults, with black feet and a black tail. A highly adaptable species, the meadow vole can be found in a variety of habitats, although it shows a preference for moist grassland areas with thick grassy cover. A prolific species, the meadow vole can produce up to 11 young per litter, and more than 10 litters per year.

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