Scalopus aquaticus

Mole - Scalopus aquaticus
Color: Grey Brown to Black
Legs: 4
Shape:

Cylindrical mammal

Size: 5 1/2 to 9 inches
Antennae: No
Region: Eastern United States

Eastern or Common Moles are digging animals and are completely subterranean. Moles are small, dark-furred animals with cylindrical bodies, a short tail and hairless, tubular snouts. Moles have small eyes and poor eyesight, but only a few are truly blind.

Habits

Moles are active year-round, day and night, usually travelling above ground only under cover of darkness. Most moles dig permanent burrows and subsist largely on prey that fall into them. A mole's diet primarily consists of earthworms, grubs, beetles, insect larvae and other small invertebrates found in the soil and also a variety of nuts. 

The mole has such a high metabolic rate that it must eat two or three times its own weight in food each day; it cannot go without food for more than 10 or 12 hours. Because their saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze earthworms, moles are able to store their still living prey for later consumption.

Moles are solitary most of the year, but during the early spring mating season they travel in pairs. The litter, born in the spring after four weeks of gestation, consists of two to seven young.

Habitat

Moles construct a complex tunnel system and burrows. Moles have short, powerful legs and extremely broad front feet, which are used as shovels and are equipped with enormous digging claws. They can move backwards almost as rapidly as forwards, and most are good swimmers. Moles tunnel just below the surface of the ground, where they hunt for food. Their tunnels make ridges and mounds in fields, gardens, and lawns; quarters for living, nesting, and wintering are in deeper burrows. A single mole can dig about 20 yards of tunnel in a day.

Moles do not eat grass, leaves, roots, flower bulbs or any other vegetation.  However, they do great damage to lawns, landscaping and golf courses by tunneling which destroys plant root systems.  They also leave their telltale hills everywhere they go.  Their hills are easily identifiable by their shape, which is conical like a volcano.  They also leave ridged tunnels all over.  

Threats

Moles are solitary creatures. They spend most of their time in a network of tunnels. The tunnels, usually less than six inches below the surface, leave ridges of earth, called molehills, above ground. Some species dig a second set of tunnels, up to 18 inches below ground, for nesting. In digging, the mole first loosens the earth with its snout and then thrusts its forefeet forward, pushing the earth out to the sides. Their digging cuts off root systems of grass and plants. One mole can ruin a lawn, a garden, or a flower bed. 

Moles rarely but sometimes can be carriers of rabies. Rabies, a virus, progressively paralyzes and can kill any mammal, including humans. Rabies is generally contracted through contact with an infected mole through biting. Though humans should avoid contact with any mole, if a mole seems especially fearless around humans, it could be infected.

Prevention

As soon as you discover a mole take steps to remove it before it ruins your lawn. The only time-tested effective method for control is trapping.

 

* Information courtesy of Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension - Mole Management in Turf and Gardens, and Ohio State University Extension - Effective Mole Control

* Image courtesy of Michael David Hill

 

Copyright © Ab-Con Exterminating & Waterproofing Company Inc.
DEP License # 93349A. NJ Licensed Contractor # 13VH03156200. Certified Renovator.