Have you ever seen a mole before? Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder! That being said, here is a description of moles and their habits.
Moles are considered to be agricultural pests in some countries, while in others, they are a protected species but may be killed if a permit is received. Moles burrow into lawns and create mole hills , for which they are sometimes considered pests. They can undermine plant roots, indirectly causing damage or death. However, contrary to popular belief, moles do not eat plant roots, but feed on worms and grubs.
Interesting mole factoids:
- Moles have sift, blue-black to gray fur, a slender, skinny snout, needle like teeth, flattened feet, large front claws and small eyes and ears which are concealed by fur.
- They can grow from 6″ to 12″ long depending on species.
- Moles may be distinguished from shrews by their naked, pointed nose that extends well in front of the mouth.
- Their front clans are wider than they are long.
- A mole’s presence can be determined by the appearance of mounded soil and long, tunneled runways.
- All moles can be damaging but the Eastern mole is by far the most widespread. It is better described as the common or gray mole. This mole is the strongest of the group and is most often associated with tunnels and or mole mounds by residential homeowners.
- Moles are not rodents, but belong to a group of mammals called insectivores.
- Moles have a very high metabolic rate and, therefore, have to consume large amounts of food. A mole’s diet is restricted to ground invertebrates such as grubs, worms, millipedes, ants and the like. However, the mole’s primary food source is earthworm, so trying to control white grub and lawn insects is no protection from mole activity.
- Mating season for moles takes place from February to March, with a single litter of three to five young born later in the spring following a 6 week gestation period. Newborn female moles will mate the following spring, thus continuing the cycle.
- Since moles don’t hibernate (they store neither food nor fat) final dispersal can result in severe lawn damage until the lawn surface freezes in winter.
Moles can be controlled with traps, smoke bombs, and poisons. Other common defensive measures include cat litter and blood meal, to repel the mole, or flooding or smoking its burrow. There are also devices sold to trap the mole in its burrow, when one sees the “mole hill” moving and therefore knows where the animal is, and then stabbing it. Humane traps which capture the mole alive so that it may be transported elsewhere are also options.
However, in many gardens, the damage caused by moles to lawns is mostly visual, and it is also possible to simply remove the earth of the molehills as they appear, leaving their permanent galleries for the moles to continue their existence underground.