4 Alticolas / Mountain Voles of Ladakh

Alticolas of Ladakh

Dear Friends,

This collage of picture are of 4 different Alticolas or Mountain Voles of Ladakh, India. I have also posted these pictures individually for identification earlier on MW and received some suggestions. After going through many journals on mountain voles or Alticolas I have came to some conclusions about these Alticolas I have recorded multiple times over 8 years time. Please have a look and feel free to suggest.

Alticolas are one of the most confusing and difficult to segregate species due to its recent split into 6 different species and not so well defined boundaries between them. Mountain Voles also varies in colour greatly between geographical locations (probably because they want to blend with the environment Locally), so colour / plumage is not a reliable character to differentiate between them.

Mountain Voles are differentiated by many different physical & genetic characters. Here I have focused mainly on the Tail characters as it is very efficient to differentiate between  Alticolas. Here the Tail length, Tail colors & Tail types are taken into consideration.  Please have a look at all the 4 species Tail characters as defined by researchers  which I have collected from different published journals as mentioned below. All these species also have distribution and past sighting records from Ladakh.


  1. Stoliczka’s Mountain Vole – Alticola stoliczkanus  

Tail length- Small tail, 15-26% of the head & body.

Tail Colour- Usually White below and Sandy-Brown above.

Tail Hair- well covered with hairs.

      2. White-tailed Mountain Vole – Alticola albicaudus (True, 1894)

Tail length- Medium size tail, 30-50% of the head & body.

Tail Colour- White.

Tail Hair- well covered with hairs.

      3. Royle’s Mountain Vole – Alticola roylei 

Tail length- Medium size tail, around 33% of the head & body.

Tail Colour- Bicolor tail Dark above & Pale below.

Tail Hair- Covered with very small hairs.

      4. Silvery Mountain Vole – Alticola argentatus  

Tail length- Medium size tail, 32-51% of the head & body.

Tail Colour- White in light color specimen & bicolour in dark specimen (shown in the picture).

Tail Hair- Almost hairless or hirsute.


In my point of view 4 different Alticolas are matching perfectly with the definitions as shown in the picture from 1 to 4 anti-clockwise. In Case of no 2. White-tailed Mountain Vole (Alticola albicaudus) not enough data or picture available online, and here this is my suggestion.

Please feel free to agree, disagree or suggest.

Waiting for your feedback.

Thank you..

  1. Klaus Wünnemann 2 years ago


    halle University in germany has workd long time on Alticola speicies https://www.mol-ecol.uni-halle.de/staff/stubbe-a/ . Maybe you find vaulable information there,

    best regards


  2. Jon Hall 1 year ago

    Hi Shantanu, this looks really useful though I do not know enough to comment. But if you get more information from others please do share it here. These voles are very tricky to distinguish I know!

  3. Author
    Shantanu Prasad 1 year ago

    Thank you very much Jon. Will surly update if I get more info in the future.

    Thank you Kalus for sharing the link. Will reachout.

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