Orkney Vole or Cuttick (Microtus arvalis orcadensis).

The Orkney vole is a sub species of the common vole which is unique to the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. They are much larger than field voles and can weigh up to 90g (twice that of a common vole) and there is some evidence that in Neolithic times they were even larger.  There are similarities to Voles found on Guernsey in the Channel Islands suggesting similar development or even a common ancestor from France or even Spain. Locally they are also known as Volo, Cutticks, or Cutoo. They do not hibernate and their numbers fluctuate throughout the year with the population peaking in August.  Females can have several litters a year each with 3-6 young after a 20 day gestation period, the young are then fed by the mother for another 20 days when they then switch from milk to normal feeding. They are subject to the normal natural predator such as short eared owls, kestrels and hen harriers. Evidence indicates that in Neolithic times they were also killed and eaten by humans who may have actually introduced the animals to the islands possibly as a food source around 4500 years ago or just as likely by accident with the animals arriving with early settlers


The Orkney vole is unique to the island and does not occur anywhere else in the UK. Voles can be found on five of the Orkney Islands, Mainland Orkney, Sanday, Westray, Rousay and South Ronaldsay. Even here their range of habitat has reduced as they are no longer found in agricultural crops but are limited to grassland, moorland and wetland.


Orkney voles are mostly active during the day but have been known to feed at night normally on plant materials, seeds and cereal crops when they can get them