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Distribution

They are found throughout mainland Britain,Anglesey,Mull,Skye,the Isle of Wight,Alderney and Jersey, but not in Ireland.


Mating

There is only one litter per year, the litter size ranging from 2 to 7.

It reaches maturity in 5 weeks and the average life span is 3 years.


Senses


Smell

Well developed. Both male and female moles have a pair of scent glands beneath the skin. These are connected to the duct which discharges urine from the bladder thus allowing tunnels to be marked with a mixture of urine and scent. This allows the moles to identify occupied tunnel systems, and in the breeding season, the sex of the individual mole occupying the tunnel system.


The scent left on the traps by the human hand could make the mole avoid them, therefore weathering of traps, I. e burying in soil for a number of days prior to use and avoiding touching with bare hands (unless rubbed in soil) prior to setting, seems to give better results.


Harmful substances used to kill or deter moles from tunnels can be detected. If detected in time, the mole will often block up to avoid them.


Touch

Sensory hairs or vibrissae are found on and under the chin, on the muzzle, snout and in its tufts on the sides of the face behind the ears. The backs of the forefeet are also equipped with stout hairs. The tail is also covered in sensory hairs. The tail is held semi erect and brushes against the tunnel walls and roof, allowing the mole to pick up information, including vibrations passing through the soil.


The sense organs on the muzzle and snout allow the mole to locate food and probe into tunnel walls etc to locate additional prey.


Hearing

Well developed. This plays a part in finding food, detecting predators and the presence of other moles in the tunnel system.


Sight

The eyes are hidden in the fur. They are however fully formed. Sight is of little use to the mole, spending most of its life underground. However moles are able to distinguish between light and dark.


Taste

Little is known on this subject but moles, when eating earthworms, they pass the worms through their forepaws in order to remove earth from the worms prior to eating. The use of the branding worms, found in manure heaps, is not recommended when preparing baits using strychnine as these are unpalatable to moles.


Tunnelling

Moles are solitary by nature and live for the majority of their time in the tunnel systems. These are complex systems of permanent or semi-permanent tunnels.


The mole creates these tunnels using its spade-like forepaws. A mole digs its tunnels with alternate forepaws, holding its body against the existing tunnel walls with its hind limbs and inactive forelimb. The soil is passed behind the mole's body. Once a suitable amount accumulates, the mole turns in the tunnel and pushes the soil to the surface, creating either a new mole hill or contributing to an existing one.

Two types of tunnels are created: surface tunnels and deep tunnels.


Surface tunnels

Just below the surface and visible as a raised ridge of soil, common in newly cultivated soil and light, sandy soil. These are short lived structures and should not be used for trapping or baits.


Deep tunnels

This is the main system used by the mole to create a nest site in the breeding season and area to catch earthworms and other invertebrates.


Mole fortresses

From time to time amongst mole hills a far larger mole hill will appear. These are more frequent in areas of high water tables which are liable to flooding. They are also found in areas of shallow voids laying on a hard substrate. In areas subject to flooding, the fortress' will provide a retreat. Its nests will be dry and stores of worms will sustain the mole until the water recede.


In the shallow soils where moles are forced to sleep near the surface, the 'fortress' will insulate the nest from cold.


Food

The main food of the mole is the earthworm. They do however consume other soil invertebrates, particularly insect larvae and molluscs.

Most of the prey is found in the tunnel systems. These are patrolled on a continual basis, the mole feeding and sleeping in patterns of roughly 4 hours. In times of plenty, earthworms are immobilised by a bite to the head and they are then stored until required.

Moles do not hibernate and are active all year round.


Breeding

The breeding season lasts from February to June. The gestation period is 4 weeks, after which the young are born blind and without fur. They are fed by the mother for 4-5 weeks and after this period, leave the nest and start to catch food for themselves.


Shortly after this, they will leave the nest site and search for a home of their own. During this dispersal period as they tend to move above ground, they are at their most vulnerable and fall victim to predatory birds etc.


Reasons for control

Where grass is grown for silage, this rapidly deteriorates if contaminated by earth from mole hills. The areas of the mole hill prevent grass from growing and allow weeds to grow, leading to rapid deterioration of pasture land.

KEY FEATURES

The European mole is silver grey to black in colour. It moults twice a year in spring and autumn. Albino moles have been found.


It has small ears with no external flaps and its eyes are also small and hidden in the fur.

The tail is relatively short and covered in hairs.   

The adult weighs between 70 and 100 g.


Control methods

Please Call East Lancashire Pest Control for mole catcher on 0800 023 6116 for a free visit and quote, plus No mole, No Fee