Moles are small mammals that belong to the family Talpidae in the order Eulipotyphla and are typically well-accustomed to a fossorial lifestyle.
These creatures are perfect burrowers since they are naturally equipped with strong forelimbs and large paws that are adapted for extensive digging.
The physical appearances of Moles are characterized by their cylindrical bodies, velvety fur, small eyes and ears, and reduced hindlimbs. Moles are generally found in most parts of North America, Europe and Asia.
They may lack appropriate vision but have extraordinary hearing capabilities and touch sensitivity that helps them with their survival.
Their sizes vary considerably according to their species but according to Live Science, on average, they are known to grow up to 4.4 to 6.25 inches excluding the tails which may further add 1 to 1.6 inches to their length.
Even though Moles are generally treated as pests by humans since they create problems for human activities such as agriculture and gardening, they tend to play an important role in the ecosystem by providing positive contributions to the soil and feeding on pests that actually eat plant roots and destroy them.
Let us find out more about these creatures and learn some interesting facts concerning their livelihood and activities.
11 Interesting Facts About Moles
1. What Do Moles Eat?
Since Moles are excellent diggers, they primarily feed on insects, pests, grubs, invertebrates, and soil organisms including earthworms.
Moles are known to consume up to 60 to 100% of their body weight in insects such as centipedes, millipedes, snails, spiders, crickets, etc. every day.
Although earthworms are their favorite food item, they also tend to feed on other invertebrates that are found underground.
What Do Baby Moles Eat?
A female Mole gives birth to about 2 to 7 young ones at a time. These babies stay in their underground burrows and feed on their mother’s milk until they are fully furred and weaned.
Once they are furred and weaned, in around four to five weeks, these pups leave their nests and begin to search for insects and earthworms present in the soil to feed upon.
2. What Eats Moles?
Even though Moles are mainly found underground, some creatures manage to hunt them down and feed on them. The natural predators of Moles include Coyotes, Snakes, Foxes, Owls, Hawks, Badgers, and Weasels.
Creatures belonging to the Canidae family such as Dogs, Coyotes, and Foxes are usually adapted to dig grounds and have a great sense of smell. They hunt Moles down from beneath the ground and feed upon them using these skills.
At times when Moles show up, which happens mainly accidentally, makes them fall prey to the birds that are flying overhead such as Vultures, Hawks, and Eagles.
3. Where Do Moles Live?
The geographical location of Moles includes more or less every continent except Antarctica and South America. Moles generally live-in areas such as grasslands, urban areas, gardens, woodlands or areas that they can easily dig out to make their tunnels.
Moles prefer moist soil that isn’t firm at all so that they can easily construct their tunnels underneath the soil. They spend most of their time underground in their tunnels searching for worms and Insects.
These tunnels range from 11/4 to 11/2 inches in diameter and are often connected to a network of tunnels. Since worms, grubs, and insects prefer wetter soil, Moles dig their tunnels in moist soil and search for their favorite food.
4. Where Do Moles Go in The Winters?
Even though it is commonly said that Moles hibernate during the Winters, they actually don’t! Contrary to common belief, Moles do not hibernate.
In fact, they dig deeper into the earth during the colder months and stay active throughout the cold season. Moles retreat deep inside their burrows below the frost line and stay active there.
Since colder months freeze the soil making it harder to dig further, Moles usually carry on their food search rather than digging.
5. How Fast Are Moles?
Moles are generally very fast and can dig a tunnel at a rate of 15 feet per hour.
Moles are extraordinary diggers since they are well-equipped and adapted to dig and make an interconnected network of burrows underneath the ground. Therefore, they are usually extremely fast and can dig a tunnel at a rate of 15 feet per hour.
No doubt, their speed is conditioned by factors such as temperature, species, and the nature of the soil. In arenas with favorable conditions, Moles can construct shallow tunnels at a rate of 12 inches per minute.
For instance, Eastern Moles that are very common in the United States can dig 160 feet burrow in a single night thus proving their efficiency in digging out tunnels.
6. How Do Moles Dig Tunnels?
Moles generally dig their tunnels using their incredibly strong forelimbs, paws, and small-sized hindlimbs.
Moles are naturally gifted with the exceptional capabilities of digging through the ground at an incredible speed. Their physical appearance makes it easier for them to dig the soil at a faster rate.
Their forelimbs and paws are very strong and therefore assist them to dig the soil deeper and faster. After digging for a while, Moles usually pause to push the unearthed soil out of the tunnel which in turn results in the creation of Molehills.
7. How Deep Do Moles Dig?
The depth of a burrow constructed by Moles depends on the function of the burrow itself. Moles can dig up to a depth of 40 feet under the ground.
Moles construct their tunnels for various purposes. Tunnels that are close to the surface of the Earth are primarily feeding tunnels. These are generally shallow and are used by Moles to search for food supplements.
The depth of the deeper tunnels ranges between 6 to 24 inches. These deeper tunnels are basically shelter tunnels where the Moles retreat during the Winters. Moles also use these deeper tunnels to bear their young ones.
8. What Time Do Moles Come Out?
Moles are usually active in the early morning or evening during springtime or after a fall. Moles are also seen outside their burrows after a warm rain.
Moles don’t come out of their burrows at any particular time of the day, rather they tend to come out at times when they find the surroundings to be quiet and still.
Also, Moles are not nocturnal creatures. They remain active throughout the day spending most of the time inside their underground burrows.
Thus, they are very rarely seen outside their burrows during the day. They are simply fond of quiet and peaceful periods and therefore prefer the quieter period of hours to come out and carry out their travel adventures.
9. How To Know That If You Have Moles In your Yard?
Since Moles are very rarely found outside their underground burrows, it can seem problematic to identify and spot them in your yard or garden.
However, Moles leave behind certain signs that can assure you of their presence in your yard.
- Shallow tunnels that are used by Moles to search for food supplements usually form raised ridges that seem to be crisscrossing your yard. Presence of such ridges are one of the major signs of Mole penetration into your yard.
- Raised mounds of dirt that are also called Molehills are another major sign of Mole presence. These mounds usually serve as the entrance or exit to Mole tunnels. This presence of Molehills clearly indicates the presence of Moles in your yard.
- Other attributes pointing towards Mole presence include the presence of areas in your yard where the soil seems to be very loose or areas where discolored and dead grasses follow a specific path. These areas suggest Mole presence.
10. How To Tell If You Have Moles or Gophers?
Both Moles and Gophers are underground creatures that are rarely seen outside their nests, making it harder to correctly identify which one of them is actually present in the yard.
However certain observations help us to spot them correctly. These mainly include their differences in mound creation and feeding habits.
If the mounds of dirt are round, symmetrical, or conical, then they are most probably the creations of Moles, since the Molehills are mostly of these types with an average diameter of one foot.
On the other hand, if the dirt mounds are crescent or horse shoe shaped, then these are the signs of the presence of Gophers in a yard.
Also, Moles prefer to have a diet that primarily consists of earthworms and insects that are present underground. Whereas, Gophers mainly feed on vegetation and underground plant roots.
Thus, if the vegetation of a yard is affected, then it means the yard has the presence of Gophers.
11. What Is the Difference Between Moles and Voles?
There are numerous similarities between Moles and Voles other than their rhyming names. Both are underground burrowers and can equally damage gardens and backyards. However, there are some considerable differences between the two that can help us to identify them.
First of all, Voles are rodents but Moles are not. Also, Voles are herbivorous creatures that primarily feed on grass, flower roots, seeds, vegetation, etc.
On the other hand, Moles are carnivorous creatures that feed on insects and worms present underground.
Other than their feeding habits, they have some prominent physical differences. Moles have a long nose, large paws that are naturally designed for digging, and have nearly invisible eyes and ears.
Whereas, Voles are considerably smaller than that of Moles in size and have prominent eyes and ears. Voles look more like rats while Moles are distinctive in characteristics.
It is therefore clear from the above discussion that Moles are distinctive and unique in their own way. Although they are criticized and treated by many as garden pests because of their tendency to ruin gardens and deplete the essential earthworm population, they also play an essential role in nature and the environment.
Moles consume insects and other invertebrates that are present in the soil, some of which can cause serious threats to the garden vegetation.
This article portrayed the most fascinating and interesting facts concerning Moles and their livelihood. It’s apparent that these little creatures are carnivorous in nature, excellent and efficient diggers, and capable of sensitive senses. Thus, they are worth our appreciation.