Orkney vole

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Orkney vole
Topillo de las Orcadas.jpg
Orkney vole (Microtus arvalis orcadensis) in the Natural History Museum at Tring
Scientific classification
M. a. orcadensis
Trinomial name
Microtus arvalis orcadensis

Microtus orcadensis
Microtus ronaldshaiensis
Microtus rousiensis
Microtus sandayensis
Microtus westrae[2]

The Orkney vole (Microtus arvalis orcadensis) is a population of the common vole (Microtus arvalis) found in the Orkney Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland, United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Island of Guernsey.[3] Orkney voles are about 10% larger than voles from other populations of the common vole.[4] The common vole does not occur elsewhere in the British Isles.

The Orkney vole occurs on five islands:

In the past the populations on each of these islands have been named as subspecies, and the Orkney vole as a whole is considered by some taxonomists to be a subspecies of the common vole because of its size difference from the common vole. However, others do not recognise any subspecies of the common vole,[2] especially since DNA analysis indicates transport by Neolithic humans from Belgium.[5][6]

Orkney voles do not occur in mainland Britain, nor elsewhere in the British Isles, and they are thought to have been introduced to the Orkney archipelago by humans in Neolithic times. The oldest known radiocarbon-dated fossil of Common Vole in Orkney is 4,600 years old: this marks the latest possible date of introduction.


  1. ^ Marshall, Claire (2018-06-13). "One in five British mammals faces extinction". BBC News.
  2. ^ a b Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  3. ^ "'Giant' vole found during island study". BBC News. 2018-10-22.
  4. ^ "'Giant' vole found during island study". BBC News. 2018-10-22.
  5. ^ Orkney vole is from Belgium
  6. ^ Martínková, Natália; Barnett, Ross; Cucchi, Thomas; Struchen, Rahel; Pascal, Marine; Pascal, Michel; Fischer, Martin C.; Higham, Thomas; Brace, Selina (2013-10-01). "Divergent evolutionary processes associated with colonization of offshore islands". Molecular Ecology. 22 (20): 5205–5220. doi:10.1111/mec.12462. ISSN 1365-294X. PMC 4159590. PMID 23998800.