Mole attack destroys garden and the gardener responds….
Wire mesh buried around the flower beds in the form of an underground fence, traps, soapy water, castor oil and planting daffodils which have poisonous bulbs ….
But who exactly is this little fella that we judge so quickly?
Let us dig into this for a moment…
So a group of moles is called a ‘labor’ and a male mole is a ‘boar’ with the female called a ‘sow’, babies are referred to as ‘pups’. The moles closest relative is the shrew and the mole is NOT a rodent!
That tell tale sign of mole hills all over the garden sure messes up the garden but what other damage are they really doing? They are tunneling through the plant root systems causing damage to the plants. Are they eating the bulbs?
But lets see this wonderful animal is the light that it deserves…
The most obvious characteristic is the proportionately large claws which enable it to dig tunnels at a rate of about 15 feet an hour. Designed to operate underground their eyesight is extremely limited and pretty close to being blind, detecting light and some studies suggest only seeing in black and white.
So how do they find their food? They use their awesome sense of smell!
In the same way that the owl uses its hearing to find its prey, (See article titled “Hoot Hoot said the Owl “) the mole can sniff in stereo! Each nostril is independently connected to the brain allowing the mole to determine the direction of its prey in the soil. Not only finding a food source but this ability can also help avoid predators such as snakes, foxes, owls and skunks.
When breeding season arrives the male will tunnel through previously unknown areas squeaking and squealing as he goes in order to find a female. Gestation is around 35 to 40 days and a liter is usually between 2 to 4. They are naked at birth. At around 14 days they start to grow hair and leave the nest at between 30 to 45 days to find their own territories.
Another fascinating aspect to these creatures is in their blood. Living in a low oxygenated environment they have a different type of hemoglobin which is far more efficient than ours at retaining and moving oxygen.
Moles are insectivores with their staple diet being earthworms, grubs and other insects. Their saliva also contains a toxin capable of paralyzing their prey so they can store them for later!
So, who ate the tubers?
The Mole should not be confused with a vole which is a small mouse-like rodent that eats mostly plants grasses, bulbs and tubers and often uses the mole tunnels to find their food!