During the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, I did what most Americans did while in quarantine, home projects.

Yes, hardware stores, whether it be big box or local, were filled with masked patrons who were all thinking the same thing, "let's do some stuff around the house"!

So, we decided to tear down the old and build a new deck off the back of the house. That deck, which has stairs around half of it, now has about a dozen little zig-zaggy channels or "canals" in the dirt under the stairs. You know what I mean.

Small brown rat near wooden wall on floor
Liudmila Chernetska

I thought I had a mole problem. When I looked up what an actual mole looked like though, this is not what I had witnessed darting under my deck. These things looked more like chocolate colored mice.

A quick phone call to Marcus D. over at Pest Off Pest Control, however, cleared things right up. I have a vole problem. What the heck is a vole? I have never heard of them.

Voles (also known as meadow voles, or meadow mice) are rodents that are exceedingly common in the New England landscape. They are especially prevalent on properties located in proximity to suitable cover, such as those adjacent to brushy, wooded or tall grass areas. The appearance of various vole species resembles that of mice, although voles tend to have longer fur and shorter tails. Their color varies from grey to chestnut brown. -umass.edu

Usually moles leave those little 4 inch piles of dirt and pebbles or rock everywhere, but this is not the case at my house. Voles dig those one to two inch wide channels in your lawn.

To get rid of them is similar to that of mice. If you just want to repel them, so to speak, you can always use those peppermint bags. I might have to opt with the "chemical bait bag" which will exterminate them, though.

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To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.