Moles have powerful front claws and cylindrical bodies. They live underground and come out rarely. Moles often leave visible ridges when they burrow.
Adult moles can measure between 12 to 20 centimetres in length. They have brown or dark grey velvety fur, small eyes, and broad front feet with strong claws ideal for digging. Moles feed mainly on arthropods, earthworms and insect larvae, but they may also eat plants.
They are solitary animals that don’t hibernate. Moles stay active day all year long. Surface activity usually occurs in the fall and spring. They have one litter of 3 - 4 young that will remain with the female mole in her tunnels for about 1 month and will reach adult size in about 4 – 8 weeks.
Star Nosed Mole
The star nosed mole can be found in wet lowland areas in the northern part of North America. It’s a small mole that can be easily identified through its 22 finger-like appendages framing its snout, which functions as a touch organ that has 25,000+ minute sensory receptors called Eimer’s organs.
Thanks to these receptors, the star nosed mole can sense seismic wave vibrations. They feed on small invertebrates like aquatic insects, mollusks, small fish, worms, and small amphibians.
The star nosed mole prefers wet, poorly drained marshes and areas. They can swim and look for food along the bottom of ponds and streams. The star nosed mole creates shallow surface tunnels that often exit underwater for hunting.
They are active throughout the day. Moles are also active during winter. They tunnel through the snow and swim in ice-covered watercourses.
Star nosed moles mate in early spring or late winter. Females may have a second litter if the first one is unsuccessful. Each offspring is about 2 inches or 5 centimetres long, weighs about 1.5 grams, and is hairless.
Their star, eyes, and ears are sealed. These parts only open and become useful approximately fourteen days after their birth. The young become independent after roughly 30 days and is completely mature after ten months.
Hairy Tailed Mole
The hairy-tailed mole is called Brewer’s mole. The North American mole is medium-sized, measuring about 5.9 inches or 15 centimetres in length and weighing about 55 grams. Its dark grey fur has lighter underparts.
The hairy-tailed mole has a 3-centimetre hairy tail and a pointed nose. It has 44 teeth and spade-shaped front paws that are ideal for digging.
The eyes of the hairy-tailed mole are covered by fur. Its snout and feet are pinkish in colour. These parts become white in older moles.
The pelage of the hairy-tailed mole is silky and dense. Moles have extremely small optic nerves. To accommodate their lack of vision, they have hairs on the tip of their nose and feet and sensitive whiskers to feel their surroundings.
The hairy-tailed mole is an insectivore. They mostly eat slugs, earthworms, ants, grubs, and beetle larvae. Hairy-tailed moles have been shown to starve if they’re only able to eat vegetable matter.
The eastern mole, also known as a common mole, is an overall grey mole found in North America. It is medium-sized and has big, hairless forefeet that are spade-shaped. The eastern mole is native to Mexico, Canada and the eastern US. It loves the loamy soil found in fields, meadows, thin woods, and pastures.
They build both shallow and deep burrows. The nest of this species is composed of grasses and leaves. Its diet consists mostly of soil life like earthworms, but they will also consume vegetable matter.
Eastern moles are ravenous predators and can eat food equal to 25% to 50% of their weight every day. They primarily feed on earthworms, but they will also eat other foods like adult and larval insects, centipedes, slugs, snails, ants and beetle grubs. In captivity, they will consume almost anything. They will also eat dog food and ground beef.
Shrew moles don’t have noticeable wide front paws. They’re often seen aboveground. Shrew moles grow only four to five inches long, making them the smallest North American mole.
Their pelage has underfur and guard hairs. The fur of these moles is soft and dense. Their tail’s about the length of their body and head and covered with scattered coarse hairs and scales.
Shrew moles can be sooty bluish-black or dark gray in colour. They have a long snout that is flattened. They’re about 3.9 inches or 10 centimetres in length, including their 1.2-inch or 3-centimetre tail.
These moles weigh about 10 grams. The enamel that coats their teeth is white. They don’t have a penis bone. Their front paws are broad and have bifurcate phalanges.
The three middle claws of their front paws are elongated. Their eyes are completely covered by skin. They have a streamlined body that allows them to move easily through tunnels.
How to Know If You Have a Mole Infestation
Moles dig a lot of tunnels. They use their feeding tunnels only a few times and then abandon it. Deeper tunnels are used as their living quarters.
Should you be concerned? Moles can be considered beneficial as they eat insects and earthworms.
Some moles also eat mice and small snakes. However, moles and their tunnels can damage gardens and lawns. They can remove soil around roots when burrowing, exposing the roots, and causing the plants to die.
The activities of moles can also spread plant diseases. Field mice, voles, rodents and other pests may use the tunnels made by moles to eat exposed roots.
Moles don’t hibernate. They stay active throughout the day. During winter, they hunt food below the frost line.
Surface activity usually happens in the fall and spring. Since they are solitary animals, it’s possible that only or two moles are the cause of damage in your garden or lawn.
How to Get Rid of Moles
Moles rarely take baits, as they prefer to consume soil insects. There are no registered baits available to the public. Baits that contain zinc phosphide can be accessed only by licensed pest control professionals.
If the population of moles has increased, treated baits may be required. Licensed pest control professionals may use commercial baits that contain various active ingredients.
You can hire a licensed pest control professional to deal with the infestation for you. They can trap the moles and get rid of these garden pests in a humane manner. You can also rent mole traps for them, but make sure to ask for instructions about the right way of using them.
Focus trapping efforts on the main runways in the fall and spring. Find tunnels that seem to directly connect two or more mounds of soil that run parallel to fences, concrete paths, or other permanent structures.
You can also gently step on a small portion of several tunnels to disturb, but not completely destroy them. Mark these disturbed sections. The raised portions can be acknowledged as active runs after a few days. These portions are good sites for traps.A healthy lawn with a low risk of a grub infestation is less tempting to moles. Dogs or cats can also discourage moles from entering your garden.