Red Tree Vole

A male red tree vole (Arborimus longicaudus) eating a Douglas fir needle. Red tree voles are rarely seen. They are nocturnal and live in Douglas fir tree tops and almost never come to the forest floor.  They are one of the few animals that can persist on a diet of conifer needles which is their principle food.  As a defense mechanism, conifer trees have resin ducts in their needles that contain chemical compounds (terpenoids) that make them unpalatable to animals.  Tree voles, however, are able to strip away these resin ducts and eat the remaining portion of the conifer needle.
A male red tree vole (Arborimus longicaudus) eating a Douglas fir needle. Red tree voles are rarely seen. They are nocturnal and live in Douglas fir tree tops and almost never come to the forest floor. They are one of the few animals that can persist on a diet of conifer needles which is their principle food. As a defense mechanism, conifer trees have resin ducts in their needles that contain chemical compounds (terpenoids) that make them unpalatable to animals. Tree voles, however, are able to strip away these resin ducts and eat the remaining portion of the conifer needle. Photo Credit: Michael Durham, https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonwild/

Overview

  • Species Common Name Red Tree Vole
  • Species Scientific Name Arborimus longicaudus
  • Federal Listing Status Candidate for listing (North Oregon Coast population)
  • State Listing Status Sensitive

Ecoregions

Special needs

Red tree voles are arboreal rodents that inhabit dense, moist conifer forests. They prefer large stands and have a highly-specialized diet, primarily of Douglas fir needles. They require large branches for protection of nests, which are typically at least 50 feet above ground.

Limiting factors

Red tree voles have low reproductive rates, small home ranges, limited mobility, and low dispersal capabilities. They are vulnerable to habitat loss from timber harvest, wildfire, development, recreation, roads, and other human-caused disturbances.

Conservation actions

Continue to monitor voles in response to forest management activities. Conduct surveys in forested lands prior to timber harvest, and protect high-priority sites. Management goals and protection for the red tree vole are generally thought to be compatible with those for the threatened Northern Spotted Owl and other late-successional forest species.