Published on February 6, 2013 by Amy
The mole is part of the Talpidae family, order insectivora, and has a pointed snout, rudimentary eyes, soft thick velvety fur, broad feet and long powerful claws on the front pair of legs.
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The mole, or “little gentleman in velvet” is a worm catcher of astonishing rapidity and devours his own bodyweight in worms in a short time. He needs 50% of his bodyweight in food per day and can quickly die of starvation. He eats mainly worms, which he holds in his front paws like a squirrel and wipes it clean with his claws, but he also eats slugs and snails or whatever appropriate meal he comes across! In deciduous woods on clay soil there will be enough worms to feed two moles per acre and he will not often have to venture above ground from his underground tunnels. Earthworms fall into their tunnels and he will sense them, catch them and often store them injured but alive in his larder at the side of an underground run.
The female mole builds her nest in a football sized chamber lined with dead leaves and grass. A larger molehill may cover the breeding nest in spring. The young are born without hair in June, generally about four or five of them. The curious mounds of earth thrown up by moles (molehills) are excellent drainage and soil aeration made by mole tunnels but most gardeners are not so keen! Moles seldom nest in water-logged soil. The tunnels are not just homes but carefully constructed traps to catch their prey, as well as kitchen and dining room! Moles often return to the same sites annually. Enlarged nest chambers are built at the centre of tunnel networks, in which they weave a ball of dried grass. Elaborate “fortresses” are built above the surface if the soil is not deep enough for a conventional nest.
“Moles are rodents”
Moles are actually insectivores, not rodents. They are from the same family as the anteater.
“Moles are blind”
Moles have extremely tiny eyes that are basically a thin membrane behind their snout. These “eyes” allow them only to sense light and little else.
“Moles are territorial and live alone”
This one is partially true. Moles generally do not get along with one another. In fact, they will often fight to the death if another mole infringes upon their territory (obviously this is not true during mating season).
Donald and Lillian Stokes in their book, Animal Tracking and Behaviour 1986, say:
“Moles are believed to remain solitary as adults and avoid contact with other moles. However, there are at least two exceptions. One occurs in the spring, when the males start to move around and leave their range in search of females. They may move about for several weeks, even after all the females in an area have mated. The other exception is that occasionally some tunnels are used by several moles; these tunnels are, in a sense, like highways. This communal use suggests that the social system of moles is more complex than we think.”
“Moles eat 2 – 3 times their body weight per day”
This claim is greatly exaggerated. Most lab and field tests will show that while moles do have a voracious appetite, they only eat up to 70 – 100% of their body weight each day.
“Moles are eating my plant bulbs and roots”
Moles are almost entirely carnivorous; however, it is true that moles can indirectly kill plants. They do this in two ways:
“Moles are nocturnal (active only during the night)”
This misconception is usually the result of people looking out their window in the morning and seeing fresh mole hills. In fact, moles are not necessarily more or less active at any time during the day or night. Current research suggests that moles sleep and work in 4-hour shifts. They are more active during quiet periods, such as early morning or late in the evening. When they feel vibrations in the ground, as created from people or pets walking, they will be more likely to cease their digging.