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moles

Imagine the scenario; you wake up one morning, take a look out of the window and, horror upon horrors, a couple of molehills have appeared on your beautifully manicured lawn. What are you going to do?

It’s an event that is increasingly more common across England, Scotland and Wales as the mole population continues to rise with latest estimates reckoning that there are around 35 million moles in the UK.

The European mole is around 15 centimetres long and weighs in at a mere 110 grammes. In order to survive it must eat two-thirds of its bodyweight in worms and bugs every day. It does this by digging an extensive network of tunnels into which its prey unwittingly enters only to be detected by the mole and promptly consumed. The mole creates its tunnel structure at various depths depending on where the worms are at the time.

In the warmer months the worms inhabit the upper layers of the soil and so the moles tunnels will be near to the surface and in the colder months, the worms move down to escape the cold and the mole must follow. So, the mole can be at the surface of your lawn creating ridges or “scribbles” as it tunnels through the grass roots or it can be up to a metre down, unseen apart from the inevitable molehills.

The molehills are the waste product of the moles tunnelling activities. As the mole moves through the unbroken soil it uses its immensely powerful front legs and claws to push the soil aside and compact it against the sides of the tunnel. This helps ensure the integrity of the tunnel and also lessens the amount of waste that the mole has to eject. It is not uncommon for a single mole to be responsible for dozens of molehills and it is reckoned that, pound-for-pound, a mole can shift more earth than a JCB.

Moles are highly territorial but their territories do touch at their extremes and they will share a tunnel that becomes a sort of super-highway for the moles. They will do their utmost to avoid each other though and they are always very aware of the whereabouts of their neighbours through use of their highly acute senses.

The one time when a mole must enter another mole’s territory is, of course, the mating season. In late Spring each year the male moles leave their territories and go off in search of females. The moles mate and the male leaves to find other females – he takes no further part in the rearing of the young that are born around four weeks later. Whilst the female is pregnant she starts to create larders that contain worms that she has bitten into, her paralysing saliva prevents them from escaping.

She will give birth to a litter of two to seven kits in a nest which is a tunnel lined with grass. Here the young will stay, being fed by their mother largely from her larders until they are five or six weeks old when they will leave the nest in search of territories of their own.

Mole Hills
Mole Hills
Mole Hills
Mole Hills
Mole Hills
Mole Hills

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