Method 15: Field vole control – Does filling the holes & tunnels help?


field vole control via burrow sealingThis mole and field vole population control method works best if done thoroughly over a long time … but even then success is not a guarantee. On the plus side … this approach is low cost and very easy to do. It is also very friendly to animals and the environment … and safe for children and pets.


How does this method work?

Moles, field voles, gophers and ground squirrels spend most of their lives underground in extensive burrow systems. This method destroys or “disables” part or all of this system … by filling it with sand, gravel or other materials.

Using a slurry of sand and water achieves the deepest penetration of the burrow. To do this, mix sand and water in a bucket … and quickly pour it into the mole and field vole holes through a big funnel. Repeat this until the hole is filled with sand to the top … and then move to the next one.

After the sand/water slurry, the second most common material is gravel: This won’t go as deep into the mole or field vole burrow system … but on the plus side … the gravel is more difficult to remove for the animals.

Another method is to spray polyurethane foam into each hole. This will seal the exist tunnels well. As the foam is not biodegradable … it should be removed once the rodents have left.


Can the field vole population be controlled with this method?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This method does not kill the mole, field vole or gopher populations … as they can easily dig themselves other tunnels. Having said this … these animals don’t like being disturbed. So they may give up their burrow system to go elsewhere … if their mole and vole holes continue to be filled up. Therefore, the best chances for success is when all new holes are consistently filled over extended periods. But even then … there is never a guarantee with this method … and moles and field voles may come back time after time again.

In general, this method works better on ground squirrels than moles and field voles.


Is this method expensive?

No, as sand, gravel and water (or even polyurethane foam) are cheap. If you have a big area costs can increase though.

Also remember that this is an ongoing effort that needs to be repeated over and over again.


How much effort does this method involve?

The one-off effort to fill the field vole holes is relatively low … unless you have a big burrow system with many exits. The effort to get the sand or gravel to your property depends on your situation.

Whether this method is a lot of effort or not will mostly depend on how often you need to repeat it.


Environmental, animal and safety matters

The sand/water or gravel version of this mole and field vole control method is very environmentally friendly: No chemicals are used … and no animals are killed. It’s safe for children and pets.

The polyurethane method is less environmentally friendly … as the foam is not biodegradable. (It can be removed though.)

Other benefits of this method lie in the fact that parts or all of the burrow is filled: Firstly, field vole holes are often trip hazards … that can sometimes even result in twisted ankles. Secondly, you avoid tunnels from collapsing in winter or after a lot of rain … turning your flat lawn into a bumpy field.


Summary of pro’s and con’s


  • Cheap (in most cases)
  • Easy to do
  • Very friendly to animals & the environment


  • Doesn’t always work reliably
  • Can be high effort ongoing


For a complete overview over all 18 vole and mole control methods … see our page: “18 methods for getting rid of voles and moles



9 responses to “Method 15: Field vole control – Does filling the holes & tunnels help?

  1. Ummm…. since these critters are so good at digging these tunnels to begin with… isn’t it reasonable to imagine that they would simply detour and dig another hole???

  2. The city were I live plans to relocate a Prairie Dog colony and fill the holes with cement. This sounds like a terrible idea for future impact on the land. I need good arguments against this idea for an upcoming meeting. Can you help?

    • Martin R Collins

      There is no need or benefit to use cement. Gravel is easier, cheaper and just as effective for field vole control.

    • Im sure i am too late but i would at least suggest using CDF (Control Density Fill) instead of concrete. CDF is essentially a very low PSI concrete mix that is excavatable by machine or even by hand if the psi is low enough (100 or less). CDF can be pumped and will fill all holes as it is a flowable liquid. call your local ready mix companies.

  3. I have ground squirrels, so I would like to try the sand water method. What is the sand to water ratio best to use, when mixing it?

    • Martin R Collins

      Hi Chris, the water level should at least be above the sand before stirring. You can actually never use too much water. What is most important is to “keep the sand in motion” so that you actually have a flowing sand/water slurry. That way the sand will be carried furthest into the burrows. For this method of squirrel and field vole control to work, you will need to continue the effort as long as you see new holes popping up. With some tenacity you have a reasonable chance to get rid off your squirrels.

      • K thanks Martin! Now the kicker about my situation is my neighbor loves these squirrels and feeds them. However she doesn’t have any holes in her yard yet, just in my. I’m hoping that by doing this, it will force them to start digging in her yard and live happy ever after over there.

  4. Cate Cooper

    Hey there! I have been trapping voles with mouse traps for two weeks or so. I have caught 11 voles, 1 mole and 1 mouse. Recently when I go to check the mouse traps, the hole that I place the trap next to will be filled up by morning. What does this mean? Am I close to eradicating them? They seem to fill the hole up from underneath and I typically just move to the next hole. Just curious as to what this behavior indicates.

    • Martin R Collins

      Hi Cate, thanks for your comment. You seem to be doing well with the mouse and vole traps. (A lot of people struggle with traps.) It’s quite normal for the voles to open new holes and closing old ones. They do move around as their feeding area changes. So whilst you may be winning with the traps, I am not sure this is shown by this behavior. All the best field vole control efforts! Share your progress here in this forum if you like.

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