Tree murderers! Voles? Or something else?

Hi all,

I went to check on my dwarf apple trees, and this is what I just found. It was a 3 year old g41 grimes golden Apple tree that had been over 6 feet tall, with a great branch structure.

Something chewed all the lateral roots right off, plus part of the tap root. The teeth marks are small so I’m assuming it was voles. Plus this tree was in a botttomless box that had a 2 foot rabbit guard around it. Chipmunks could climb over and gophers or voles could dig under, but this is pretty crazy. They must have been chewing on it all winter, but when I came out today, the tree was leaning over, sitting on a little hole loosens out now all the roots are gone.

  1. Do you all think it was voles or something else?
    2 how do I better prevent this on my remaining trees?
    3 is there any point at all in trimming down my remaining tree and trying to replant it in case the tap root can sprout some new laterals?
  2. I’ve trimmed off most of the branches, so I’ve got lots of grimes scion. You’re welcome to some if you pay for postage and an envelope.

That is awful :man_facepalming: So aggravating to care for a plant for years and then it is all gone just because of something like that. Sorry to hear it :frowning_face: If I didn’t already have so many scions I would likely take you up on your scion offer :+1:


I believe it’s vole. Some of my trees also have same damage (especially winter protected fig trees).

I have tried everything to get rid of my voles. (sound, vibration, poison peanuts, exhaust fumes, gasoline set on fire, baited traps) If you have a suggestion, let me know! That would really make me angry to come out and see that. I can see me running down to the orchard, traps in hand, yelling at the dang things. OK it wouldnt do anything constructive, but it might make me feel better.


I had heard horror stories, but wow. It’s unreal to see that much damage. The tree had been perfectly healthy all summer, so I’m assuming most of this damage was from this winter.

Death to all voles. So let it be war upon you all.


That’s voles. I feel your pain. I had a family of voles get under my barn this winter and kill a whole bunch of my potted fig trees I store down there. I managed to trap ten or so afterwords, but the damage was done. Real frustrating.



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I know your pain. I had lost four trees a couple years back plus two more that had recovered because they only went half the way around. I have been burying hardware cloth about six inches deep and chicken wire too. I had forgotten to protect these trees though. They were new ones and a peach tree that was finally producing nice peaches!
This video looks promising. I might make up a couple of these.


i gave up trying to protect the trees themselves. i just use a 12in. long sections of 2in. pvc with one end duct taped. put in a 2in. piece of block bait so it sticks to the inside duct tape then set on the ground around your trees with the open end tilting slightly down so water won’t enter. i put about 20 of them out in early nov. all around the outer perimeter of my trees and bushes. come spring all the baits gone and so are the voles. haven’t had a issue in 4 yrs. of doing this. my neighbor lost 14 of his 30 high bush blueberries to them last winter. he’s now doing what i do. Huvid, thats the worst vole damage I’ve seen on a tree that size. sorry for your loss.



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What kind of block baits? I don’t want to use something that would harm predators ingesting them


Poison worries me. My neighbors all have dogs and cats and I have small kids.

Plus I live right next to a large, grassy field. I can kill those that come into my yard, but there will always be massive colonies just outside my fence.

Weighing my options.

I understand your fear. I lost a welsh corgi to eating a block of mouse bait. It was an anticoagulant and he died of internal bleeding. It was recognized and vitamin k injection was given, but too late.

My latest method has been the ACMIND type of mouse track (with teeth) baited with peanut butter. Place beside entry hole. I cover them with clear plastic plant water saucers and secure with some landscape clips.

Here is an interesting site I have not seen before today. It mentions many different options. I like their mention of preferred bait.

my property borders a field on 2 sides. i place the baits along the edges of my property on those 2 sides as well as around my trees. mine get covered in snow all winter so no one but the voles get into the bait. i don’t bait in other seasons for reasons you describe. I’ve never seen their bodies come spring so they must go underground to die. i use tomcat bait chunks that come in 1 gal. tubs at TSC. the design posted above would be much safer if you have young kids around. they use the same type of bait as i use.

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Anticoagulant baits cause dehydration so mice/voles will go search for water before they die, that is why they are usually used in baits labeled for indoors so they don’t die in walls. But when they go out they expose themselves to predators. I found a redtail hawk several years ago that died next to a pond, it had vomited blood so it seems like it ingested anticoagulants, and since they do not eat baits it must have been from poisoned mice. Anticoagulants are illegal to use in the native range of the California condor for that reason.

I use the victor snap traps with the large cheese shaped trip plate and drill a hole on the opposite side of the trigger to put a 3" nail through that gets pushed into the soil. That will deliver more force and keeps them from dragging the trap off if only their foot gets caught. I don’t bait them, though I’ve read apple slices work well, what I do is scout for burrows, trails, and bark damage in the fall and place the traps where they will walk across them. I check them every day or 2 for the first week after I put them out and usually get most of them within a couple days.

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You can put those 180 deg from another with the hole in between them then cover with a long u-shaped cover so they have to walk across the traps. I just watched a video on that too.

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I never successfully trapped a vole, not for want to trying, but the cats eradicated them by the dozens

Now that I have no more cats, they will doubtless proliferate

Voles infest my property. I almost lost one tree the first year after planting. Now I mow my orchard down to scalped grass in late October starting in the center working my way out to push them out as I go. I leave a couple strips of unmowed grass at the outer edge and come back a week or so later and mow that down. A lot of voles hide in that last strip and get chopped up. Any rodents I trap in my barn, carcasses go out into the orchard to attract predators. I stomp snow down around the trees to collapse any vole runs. So far these measures have kept them out of the orchard over the winter.

Two voles and their friend the mouse:


This guy eats so many voles during the summer he hardly ever shows up for feeding time.


my calico kills her fair share of them in the summer and a lot more in the fall when the grass in the fields dies. she gets a few red squirrels now and again as well.