What Are Moles (Animals)?
Moles are small, burrowing animals that are members of the family Talpidae.
Moles are found worldwide and are usually thought of as garden pests, thanks to their love of digging and their tendency to build intricate underground tunnel systems. While moles spend most of their lives underground, they are not blind.
There are approximately 70 species of moles in the world. In the United States, the most common variety is the eastern mole.
How to Identify Moles
Moles are easily recognizable thanks to their pointed snout, paddle-like front feet, and long, clawed toes.
Unlike digging rodents, which have fur that lays flat and points toward the tail, eastern moles have dark, dense fur that sticks straight up. This unique fur pattern prevents soil from getting trapped between their fur and skin when they back up through their tunnels.
While male moles are larger than females, most species grow to a maximum of 10 inches in length. They have hairless, prominent snouts and tiny eyes and weigh about 2.5 to 4.5 ounces as adults.
Behavior, Diet, and Habits of Moles
Moles are solitary creatures. They spend most of their lives alone, living in their underground tunnels. Moles are also highly territorial, with average populations of just 3-5 moles per acre.
In terms of diet, moles eat insects, with earthworms being their primary food source. Each mole consumes its body weight in moles every day and will dig extensive networks of tunnels to find worms.
Moles breed from March to May each year. Females give birth to litters of 3-4 pups, who stay with their mother for 4-5 weeks before weaning. In the wild, moles have an average lifespan of about three years.
Moles are found on every continent except Antarctica and South America. They live in mixed woodlands, grasslands, and any area that provides optimal soil for them to dig tunnels in.
What Damage Do Moles Cause In Your Yard & Garden?
Moles cause property damage as they burrow. When they dig their burrows close to the surface, they destroy grass roots, leaving brown patches in the yard.
They can also disrupt or destroy the roots of vegetables, plants, flowers, and trees as they dig and may uproot turfgrass.
To create exits to their tunnels, they create molehills that can obstruct lawn and garden equipment and make your lawn look unsightly.
In rare cases, moles can transmit rabies or spread parasites to humans or domestic pets.
What are the Signs Of A Mole Infestation?
Since moles live entirely in the soil, you’re not likely to see these pests. Instead, you have to look for signs of activity. Here are the most common signs of moles:
- Trails or raised soil (also known as surface runways)
- Molehills or mole piles (deep tunnels that have mounds on top)
- Plant and lawn damage
- The video below shows piles of dirt created by moles in Santa Cruz, California.
How to Prevent Moles in Your Yard
Want to keep moles out of your yard? Try these tips:
- Remove food sources by decreasing grub and insect populations
- Use non-toxic, store-bought mole repellents
- Invest in a bait program and allow it to run for a whole summer or two to get mole populations under control
- Install exclusion fencing that extends at least 6” belowground to prevent moles from digging into your yard
- Contact a mole control expert like Smith’s at the first sign of mole activity
Keep in mind that keeping moles off your property usually requires a combination of tactics, like trapping, gopher baskets, and repellents.
How Smith’s Can Help Get Rid Of Moles
For properties looking for a one-time solution, Smith’s will implement a mole trapping program that consists of identifying runways, placing traps, and then returning to check and re-bait as necessary.
We offer an annual mole control program for lawns and properties that experience recurring mole problems. A year-round solution, we’ll return regularly to get rid of and prevent moles.
In addition to our mole trapping, Smith’s provides grub control services to eliminate their food sources.
For effective mole control in the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas or for help maintaining a mole-free lawn in Sonoma County, contact Smith’s Pest Management today!
Bob M. - Fremont, CA
The gophers killed my fruit trees, and upended my garden and it became impossible to keep up with them. So I contacted Smith and they took care of them for me.