The native Townsend's vole is a favorite food of the red fox, and depends on a healthy landscape to thrive. They live in underground burrows and open grasslands, and are primarily vegetarian with a diet of stems, leaves and roots of green plants. They also store and eat tubers and bulbs.
For a small mammal, they're rather large: 6 ½ to 9 inches long including a 2 to 3 ½ inch tail. In summer they're dark brown to dark reddish brown, and in winter, dark brown to black. Their underside is gray to bray-brown, their black tail faintly bicolored, and their ears large. Each of their dusky feet has six small pads on the soles.
As with most prolific rodents, they breed all year and can have 2 to 3 litters per year with an average litter size of 4 to 6. This high reproduction rate compensates for high mortality even though they scurry about under cover of lush grasses, sedges, and reeds. This is crucial because they have a good many predators, from owls and hawks to foxes, snakes, and great blue herons.