Urban Wildlife - Mole

Mole © Colin Bell

Fascinating Fact about Mole

The mole is among the most common and widespread of mammals in the UK, but because it spends most of its life in the tunnels that it digs, it is rarely seen. For most people, it is the familiar sight of molehills of soil in woods and fields and even on lawns which is their only experience of these secretive animals.

All about Mole

Moles are only about 15cm long. They have stout
forearms and broad front paws with strong claws which
give them the ability to tunnel so effectively underground.
Their body is roughly cylindrical with no neck and a pointed
nose, and they are covered in thick, dark fur.

When and Where to See

Although moles are active both at night and during
the day, they spend almost all their time underground.
However, they do emerge from the
ground occasionally, usually during long periods of
dry weather when there is a shortage of food.
If you go out very early in the morning after a few
weeks without rain, you might be able to hear a
mole tearing clumps of grass while searching for
food. There is also the chance of seeing one as it
scurries from one feeding place to another.

Did you know?

  • A mole’s diet mainly consists of earthworms, but

they also feed on beetles and other insects, even
baby mice and occasionally shrews if they come
upon them while on the surface. A mole needs to
eat the equivalent of its own bodyweight each day.
In autumn they make a store of hundreds of
earthworms to last them through the winter. The
worms are usually chewed off at the front end so
they cannot crawl away, but remain alive and so
provide fresh food for several months.

  • Moles breed between March and May. The gestation period is 30 days, with 1-2 litters born in a year. Each litter has 3-6 pups which are suckled for 4-5 weeks and become independent of their parents at about 2 months old. Outside the mating season moles lead solitary lives, each one in its own system of tunnels.
  • Moles are not blind, as most people believe.  They do have eyes and internal ears, though they are very small to prevent them from being clogged up and damaged during tunnelling. Although they can see, the mole’s eyesight is poor, with no ability to detect colours, just light from dark and movement. However, the mole has a special weapon to help it fi nd other animals underground - an area of bare pink skin on the snout, covered in tiny pimples that detect movement and the scents of prey or other moles.
  • Large molehills mark the position of a nest; a line of small molehills marks the direction of a deep tunnel; a continuous line of earth marksa very shallow tunnel.

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