Moles (Talpidae family) are small mammals known for both their lack of good eyesight and their tendency to spend most of their time underground. There are about 20 species of moles known to exist and they are common throughout most of North America, Asia and Europe. Most moles are 5-6 inches in length and weigh about a pound.
Moles live in underground burrows and feed primarily on earthworms and ground-dwelling insects, though they have also been known to feed on nuts. Their proportionally large feet and claws allow them to dig quickly when making burrows or foraging for prey. Once the mole has located a potential meal, its toxic saliva is capable of paralyzing small animals. This unique trait allows the mole to stun earthworms and then transport them back to special burrows called larders. In this larder the mole can store worms – still alive but paralyzed - for consumption at a later time.
It’s generally accepted that moles can only see well enough to distinguish night from day, as their eyes are small and usually covered with thick fur and they rely primarily on their highly developed sense of smell navigate. Moles breed each spring and birth 2-6 babies which will become independent about 30 days after being born. Most moles live to be about 4 years old.
Moles are plentiful throughout much of the world and are considered by many to be a pest animal. Their constant burrowing and creation of molehills can wreak havoc on lawns, golf courses and agriculture, and they are usually trapped or driven away with smoke bombs and other methods. Although moles can be eaten, they have a reputation for being very unpleasant tasting.
- The star-nosed mole can detect, catch and eat food faster than the human eye can detect.
- Larger species of moles can prey upon mice by catching them near the entrance to their burrow.
- Despite being common in Europe and England, there are no moles in Ireland.
University of Manitoba