Now that Mole Season is upon us, here are a few Frequently Asked Questions about moles!
- How long do moles live? Moles may live for up to 7 years, however, more than 85% die in the first 3 years.
- What and how much do moles eat? Moles are opportunistic feeders and consume almost anything they can catch. Earthworms are the main component of their diet, however, insects and mollusks make up the majority of the other prey. Moles usually eat three times a day. An adult consumes about 1/8 pound of food per day.
- When are moles most active? Moles have 3 periods of activity: 2-7 am., 11-4 pm., and 8-ll pm. Times may vary with location and with the time of the year. For example, males are more active in February and March to search for receptive females. On the other hand, females are more active in May and June when they need more food for nursing their young. Moles spend nearly half of their time sleeping.
- What is the typical litter size and how many litters will a female have per year? Litter sizes range from 2-8 with an average of 4. Gestation period is thought to be around 28 days. If conditions are not favorable, the female may reabsorb the embryos she is carrying. Most experts believe that a female may have up to three litters per year.
- How do moles communicate? Smell is very well developed in moles. Both males and females produce glandular secretions that empty into the urinary tract. The amount and composition of these secretions changes during breeding season.
- How many different species of moles occur in the US? There are 7 species of moles. The two most common are the eastern mole (Scalopus aquari-cus) and the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata). Both occur east of the Rockies.
- Can moles swim? All moles can swim it’the need arises. They have been observed to swim up to an hour and to cover a distance of over a half mile. The star-nosed mole is semi-acquatic and often obtains its food underwater. Members of this species are usually found in low- lying areas near water. In fact, their tunnels may exit into ponds or streams.
- How do moles dig? The front legs are greatly enlarged and point at right angles to the body. While digging, the legs are swept from front to back in a horizontal plane. This power stroke moves the body forward and either dislodges the soil or pushes it outward forming the tunnels. Moles can dig at approx. 18 ft. per hour.
- Do moles have different tunnels? Yes, they usually have two types – surface tunnels and deep tunnels. Surface tunnels have visible, raised portions above the ground. These are particularly common in recently disturbed soils, sandy soils, and in terrains where food is found just below the surface. Surface tunnels are more easily dug but appear to be more temporary, especially when their prey goes deeper in the soil due to drought or cold temperature. Deep tunnels ranging from two inches to five feet are more commonly used. This requires the mole to place mounds of dirt above the surface of the lawn.
- Are the number of mounds a good indicator of the number of moles in a given area? No.
- How are moles controlled? There are several ways of getting rid of moles. These include trapping, poisoning, and using chemicals to eliminate potential food sources such as earthworms and insect grubs from the soil. Most people find the latter two methods unacceptable because they are either too dangerous to use or they have long-term adverse effects on the environment.
- What is the best mole trap to use? The first factor to consider is efficacy. Will the trap catch moles ? A very important second factor is safety. Many traps have dangerous features such as the sharp spears or a device that acts as a strong choker. Because many of these products protrude above ground, they are a potential danger to children and pets. Many operators/consumers are concerned about cost. This is especially true if many traps are needed. Another factor is longevity, basically, will the trap offer several seasons of service ? All of these factors should be considered when choosing a mole trap.
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